Abby has been in Congressional Debate for 3 years and in this episode, learn Abby’s trick on ways to feel more confident when public speaking.

Hi, I am Jan Landis and this is the GIRLBRAVE podcast. Today I'm talking with a 16 year old Abby. She has been in congressional debate for three years and today you'll hear Abby's trick on how she appears more confident when speaking in public. We'll also hear about her go to method for getting over her fear of joining new extracurricular groups and the warning signs she feels when she's overextended herself with too many obligations. Let's get to it. 

Hi Abby. How are you? 

Good, how are you? 

So good. Thanks so much for being here today. 

Thank you for having me. 

Yes, well I'm excited to get to know more about you. So let's start with the basics. 


How old are you? What grade are you in? 

So I am 16 years old and I'm a junior at Lincoln East high. 

What is your typical day look like? 

Um, my typical day is I usually roll around and get out of bed at around seven-ish and I tried to leave to go to school by seven 20 so that gives me very minimal time to get ready. I go to school and usually I have some sort of afterschool activities such as key club or debate. And then most of the time I'll have, um, either girl up meetings or tennis at the night. So I don't actually get back until around seven 30 every night, 12 hour day. What's key club? So key club is a volunteering club that is run by Quantis international and so there's different branches of it and we're just the East high branch. Hmm. 

What does Quantis do? 

So Quantis is an international organization and they help provide leadership opportunities as well as volunteering opportunities for those in community in the community. 

That sounds very cool. Okay. So girl up, you're the marketing director. What does that mean? What do you do? 

Um, so one of my main goals is that I work on advertising our yearly summit. So every year we have a summit, which started last year. Last year we had about around, I want to say 50 to 60 girls show up for a two day event. And we brought in speakers and we did a lot of empowering activities to help, um, provide a means for girls to learn how to use their voice and how to be active in their community. 

So how would a girl use her voice? 

So we had different speakers in, um, showing different ways. So you can use your voice politically by attending rallies or sending letters to your governor and senators or there was a speaker who taught girls how to use your words and your emotions and songs. So we had them create songs and performances. So there was a lot of ways to use your voice. It's just you find what's more comfortable for yourself. 

Oh, that's very cool. Are they fun to hear some of those songs? When's the next summit? 

So the next summit is we're shooting around, I believe June in the first, the second week of June, but we'll have more information as it gets closer. 

Okay. Awesome. Can't wait to hear more about it. Within that marketing. Do you do like graphic design? 

So I do a lot of the Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. So it's a lot of social media on my part as well as I also help out with um, if they need website help or just advertising in general for other clubs that might be interested or just other activities going around in the community. 

So I'm also a graphic designer. Do you think you're going to do graphic design when you graduate? 

Graphic design has been a big part of just my high school career. So I feel like I would like to explore the college aspect of it, but I'm not sure if I solely would like a, a career in graphic design, but I would definitely am planning on just playing around in that area for a little bit. 

Yeah. Especially if you're into activism and stuff like that you can use your art for for good. 

Yes, definitely. 

You are also a rally organizer for period.Right? 

So period is a organization that was founded a couple of years ago and basically what they advocate for is a menstrual products in all public areas, which includes schools, prisons and homeless shelters as well as the removal of the tampon tax in all 50 States. And so the first period day was in all 50 States as well as two other countries. 

There was a rally happening and it all happened at around the same time period around like one to 5:00 PM and what we did is we just had a rally to show legislators that um, there was a, it's a passionate issue and there was a lot of people involved in it and it was a really cool experience because I knew there was other like 49 other States of course. But having the two other countries who weren't even that involved in the United States just was really cool and impactful. 

Where was it held? 

I don't remember the, the actual country, but I feel like it was somewhere in Latin America and or Europe.And so explain how the day went. 

What was it like to be there? 

It was, for me, it was very chaotic because this was the first thing I've ever put together. That was just my, I guess my skill set that I've used. So I had a lot of people help me. 

But the hardest thing is that I went around town looking for a megaphone for four hours. I drove around town and I was like, you know, it's okay. I don't think we need one. We don't have like everybody scream if needed. And it actually turned out to be really nice and intimate because the supporters and everybody had their signs and they're sitting on the steps and then the speaker would just face them. 

So it was very like personal and you were able to just see the speaker and rather than just have them yelling at you.

How did you get involved in that and how did you volunteer to be an organizer? 

I got involved just through social media, so I kind of was on my social media spirals. I came across it and I wasn't really aware of how big an issue it was and how impactful it was until I stumbled across their, um, Instagram. And I was like, maybe I should try to see if I can get involved. Because it was something that I realized that impacts me too. And I, you know, emailed them and then they got me involved and I just loved it. 

Do you have any apprehension when you're getting yourself involved in new groups? Do you have any self doubt where you have to talk yourself out of it or do you just like I'm doing it? 

Um, well first of all I always try to see if I know people who are in the group. So a lot of people I knew from Minnesota was also in the group, so I contacted them first and then I was like, Hey, I'm thinking about it. Do you have any tips or comments or concerns about the group that I should, you know, know about before asking? But sometimes I do worry because I like to take on more than I can, I think I can handle. And so I've been working on it, but I always try to make sure, like the time commitment. What's the time commitment? Um, how long would it take me to accomplish tasks X, Y, Z before actually starting a new group. 

You're involved in a lot of groups. You find them in social media. [inaudible], how do you decide what you want to do and when you feel like you're overtaxing yourself or volunteering too much or have too many activities. 

So when I feel like I have too many activities or just too much going on in general, I try to just scale back and kind of look at my commitments for the prior week and try to build in some just me time because I found that's really important just to have like time where I can just, you know, watch Netflix and not feel guilty about, you know, other tasks I have. 

But I also think that with, as I get older, I'm saying this like as I'm like 40 years old, but as I get more like experience in time management as well as like what the course load requires for school, I'm a lot more aware of what I'm able to take on and how much I can take on. Because freshman and sophomore year I was just piling stuff on constantly because I didn't know I had a limit. And this year I realized I know what my limit is and I know how far or how much I can take. Besides that limit. 

What is your limit? Is it like I'm very stressed out or I'm starting to feel rundown? 

My limit is just when I realized like I am constantly doing stuff, but I don't feel happy about what I'm doing. It's, I'm doing tests just to get done with tasks rather than I'm really interested in this and I really want to continue doing this. Like, so it feels more of a chore if I'm, you know, more burnt out and I'm just trying to get it done just because I want to sleep because it's late at night. But rather if I would be more active and just enjoy what I'm doing, then that would be a lot better. 

 Yeah, that's super smart. 

"I try to be brave when I'm confident and I know what I'm doing. But I allow myself sometimes to not be brave if I'm nervous about something. " 


What movies are you into? 

These days are like, um, I kind of watch whatever is just new and hip on Netflix. So I just finished, um, the new docu series of cheer, even though I'm no way related to cheer. I watched the whole thing in about a week, which was only six episodes, so very nice. And I'm also watching, I just started new girl. It's really interesting. I don't know, I just kind of watch whatever's on Netflix. I'm not really that picky. Yeah. 

Right. So what's next for you? What are you excited about trying next or is there a new project on the horizon? 

Um, new projects on the horizon. I don't think there's much going on. We're of course planning for the summit that's happening this year as well as getting ready for, um, new officers in the summer and just choosing who's going to take my spot, which we'll see. But, um, for me personally, I think that, first of all I'll be a senior next year. So applying to college would be a big hassle. But also just, um, graduating college, I'm in high school and of course just finding what I want to do and I think that's important is finding myself and what I enjoy and making a career out of it. 

So if anyone wants to get involved with Girl Up Nebraska, where did they go? 

So you can first of all contact any officer, which is on our website, but we also have, um, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. So if you have any of those to search up girl up any and you'll find us. 

Awesome. Well thanks Abby. 

Thanks for having me. 

What does it mean to be brave? Sometimes brave means scared, anxious, but try anyway. Go brave as a celebration of bros who are brave taking up space in the world. And thanks for listening. Join us next time on GIRLBRAVE Podcast.

So this podcast has called GIRLBRAVE. What's your definition of being brave and do you think you are brave? 

I think personally for myself, sometimes I'm ready. I try to be brave when I'm confident and I know what I'm doing. But I allow myself sometimes to not be brave if I'm nervous about something. But being brave is for my definition, is just being comfortable in your own skin and willing to accept your faults and to grow upon what you think you could work on. 

That's excellent. Thank you. Do you have any self-talk or any rituals that you do when you maybe aren't feeling confident and allowing yourself to settle into yourself? 

Something I do is, I've also learned this through debate, but I also self visualize. So what I do is before, if I'm speaking at an event or if I'm just having a presentation or something, I always think in my mind what it's going like. The best outcome would be, and I always, I just keep replaying it and replaying it in my mind until it's time for me to go. 

So when you're up there, you have a sense of normality and you know what you're going to do and expect and it's just supposed to help you, I guess calm yourself down, but also give yourself that positivity that you need. So I tend to do that a lot. Even if just like before a test, I always think to myself, okay, what's the best outcome that could happen? How do I achieve that outcome? 

You are so smart. You have helped me so much with so many great ideas today. Thank you. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to join a group in school? If they don't know anybody, how do they, how would you recommend they get involved? 

Um, something that's worked really well for me is that I always try to find someone who I can, not force but encourage to come with me just the first time. So I at least know someone else there and I can decompress about like the group and if I liked it or if I didn't like it. But I also would think that going into the mindset of it's okay if I don't like it and there is no harm, no foul if I don't come back. So realizing that and also just being aware of like what the group advocates for and if you advocate for the same thing, then just join it. 

That's smart. You don't have to commit just because you go to one meeting. Yeah, that's a big thing I think a lot of people failed to realize is that if you go, you're not locked in for the rest of your year or the rest of your high school career. 

It's just if you don't, we understand. And there's a lot of people who are also feel the same way. 

So if someone wasn't involved or wasn't interested after they went to the first meeting, what would be a good way to, to, to relay that message? Or would you just not.... 

I don't advocate for just ghosting a group completely, but just maybe, you know, if you find someone in the hallways just be like, Hey, I'm sorry I can't go anymore. Whether it'd be for, you know, time reasons, personal reasons, just explain to them because I think it's a lot better than just not going and leaving the group, wondering where you're at. 

Sure. Right. That's good advice. Thank you. Tell me a little bit more about debate. 

I've been a congressional debater at Lincoln East for three years, which is a while, but I loved the activity and I think my favorite thing about the baiting in general is that you see the same people every day, but also you're competing against the same people every weekend. So it gets them to a friendly competition and we're able to be very comfortable and even amp up the competition just because we're just so comfortable with one another. 

And I think that's something really nice because I've gotten to meet people from all around the U S through debate and I think that's really important. What are some of the things you've learned after being in debate that's helped you communicate in your everyday life? Oh, one important thing I've learned is that I always in public speaking, I always take a deep breath and then I just kind of focus myself before speaking because if I rush into something, I'm not going to make coherent sentences and I'm not going to even understand what I'm saying. 

So if I take a deep breath first and then just kind of let the negative scary energy out, it helps you in long run. But also I've learned just how to present myself with confidence. Even if I'm not confident, I know how to, you know, place my feet in a way that make me look that I'm actually not ready and I'm ready to continue speaking and just not sway. It's just giving that false sense that you have confidence to other people will make you seem more confident. 

I love that. It's like doing the superwoman pose or you speak. So how do you place your feet? 

Right. So you put your feet shoulder width apart and you also have to make sure you don't sway and you don't make little ticks if you might have them. So always keep your hands planted by your side. Um, shoulders down and smile of course. And also make sure that you're not, not looking or darting your eyes everywhere. So pick a spot, whether it be preferably in the back of the room to just kind of look on and just kind of shift your eyes in a triangle. That's what I've learned and I think it's helpful when speaking and like just large groups because then you're just not awkwardly staring at someone. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of all your activities? Just for yourself? 

Um, well I have two Guinea pigs and I, I'm the, we've never been like a pet family until recently, but we're just, we have two little Guinea pigs and they're chunky and we just play with them. And I dunno, it's weird having pets because I never thought my family especially would be a pet oriented family. But we have any pigs and I dunno, I spend a lot of time, but their names are, they're named after foods. So we have one named nugget and he's um, kind of like a nugget color and then we haven't, another one whose name is Nori and she's more of a darker chocolate, Brown colored. Cute.  

What are you listening to on Spotify or on your my lists? 

I have very organized list though. I have very mood based playlists, so I have kind of just like a relaxed like driving around night playlist, which is just very calming songs or I have, you know, a Saturday morning get ready with me, which is just like pure rock, just going through. Um, it just depends on my mood because I have learned, um, as I study more and I just have more free time that I like to listen to music and it helps me focus. So I have a lot of music play with it. 

Awesome. I like how organized that is. Thanks so much for being here with me today!

Thank you!

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