13 October 2016
Step into your discomfort zone says Youth Governor Appurva Raaj

Speech by Appurva Raaj YMCA SA Youth Governor to the 2016 sitting of YMCA SA Junior Parliament

Tuesday 11th October

House of Assembly, Parliament of South Australia


A very bright, beautiful and happy morning to you all, and welcome to the House of Assembly!

I hope you are all excited to put into practice all the knowledge you gained yesterday and especially excited to debate your amazing bills.

But before we get to all of that, I want to tell you a quick story that maybe all of you can relate to. If we skip back a year and half, in this same chamber. I was a very, very nervous first year participant at Youth Parliament. And on the first day we all made our way in to this magnificent chamber and took our seats, just like you have today. Bills began being debated and I sat there, exactly where you all are now, looking at my written speech nervously.

It may be hard to believe for some of you because I am standing here speaking to you now. But in that moment the last thing I wanted to do was stand up, turn on the microphone and speak. My throat went dry and my palms started sweating just at the thought of doing such a thing. What if I messed up my words, what if I said something wrong? The 'what ifs" were running wild in my thoughts.

Then I don’t know what came over me, but I got up and before I realised the Speaker had picked me. I don’t remember what I said or how I said it, but what I do remember is that I did it. I spoke for the first time in Parliament.

Looking back, that moment may seem pretty insignificant but I can honestly say that that moment changed everything for me. That moment that I stood up and spoke for the first time is what has snowballed into me standing here in front of you as your Youth Governor.

That moment is something that each and every one of you will face today. Some of you may welcome it with open arms which is great, and some of you may go through what I went through, that little moment of doubt. But I am here to tell you that if I can get past it and speak up so can you.

Junior Parliament offers so many things, the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge of parliamentary procedures and law making. Junior Parliament is a place for self-reflection and development and new friendships.

However, there is a catch. The catch is that Junior Parliament only offers these exceptional opportunities and experiences. It is up to you to choose to welcome these experiences, to grow from them. To step out of your comfort zone.

People always say to step out of your comfort zone, but I think that’s a bit too passive. Instead I’m going to suggest you take an active step, a determined step into your discomfort zone.

That place that makes you a little uncomfortable, a little unsure, a place that challenges you to be better today than you were yesterday.

I’ve heard people say, "Aww you know kids these days are only interested in trivial things like Anime, Snapchat and K-Pop". And I can definitely confirm that you are indeed interested in those things, but what is often left out are your views and ideas on important social issues, whether it be marriage equality or nuclear waste dumps.

I see so much potential and intelligence and maturity in thinking about the complex issues that affect South Australia and the world in all of you and I must truly say that it is refreshing and exhilarating.

So, set yourself a goal today, to speak at least twice or to try and make an improvised speech, it can be big or small but make sure you are challenging yourself and stepping into your discomfort zone with conviction and make sure to smash those goals because I know you can.

You have potential, you are important, you are valued members of society, you are the present and the future and your voices are important so don’t be afraid to use them.

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