A Failure, Not a Mistake

I joined the Toastmasters International Club at work last May and finally, after a couple months’ delay, got the chance to deliver my first speech last Thursday.

Below is the actual transcript of the speech I came up with for Exercise #1- The Ice Breaker.

Good evening everyone. I stand before you today as a failure.

My parents named me Joevaline Juliet, a combination of my father’s (Joe) and my mother’s (Valine) names. They added Juliet as a token of gratitude to my paternal grandmother Julieta, for paying the hospital bills when I was born.

Jose Jr. and Evangeline, the two people who took a vow to be together “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do they part” were the two people who gave me my first taste of failure at age five. My father’s unfaithfulness and my mother’s bitterness caused the eventual downfall of a union that was already doomed from the start. It was mutually decided that the best and the only option left for each to keep his or her sanity was to go their separate ways. A marriage forced by rebellion and lust is surely not the perfect foundation to raise a family.

Fast forward five years later and picture the 10 year old me standing in front of an audience delivering a declamation contest piece about a clown who made people happy but can’t seem to find any joy in life. The judges came up the stage to call the winner, and it wasn’t me. That was my first taste of defeat, the second time I sampled failure in life.

These are two key failures, two different aspects in life, two events that taught me most of what I need to know to survive.

My parents’ break-up made me see the significance of choosing the right life partner.  It’s been said time and again that marriage is not like a spoonful of hot steamed rice that you can spit out after getting burned. It’s a commitment that requires blood, sweat and tears.

Their split also showed me how much impact a parent’s life can have on his or her child. My father may have been a thug, a drug dealer, a known frat leader but despite his shortcomings, he made it known that he was a father proud of his child, his only daughter. My mother perhaps had been too strict, at times, too much of a disciplinarian, but she did her best to raise her child. Nanay brought me to church every Sunday. She patiently sat with me through countless Sunday school classes, endeavoring to teach me God’s word at an early age. Her zeal and devotion to God, as based on my standards, remain unparalleled to this day.

The defeat I suffered in that elementary school contest couldn’t have come at a better timing. I was way too confident and I went home with nothing but tears to show for it. I thought I’ve given my all only to find out that someone else was judged better than my best shot. Since then, I dealt with life as if I was on stage, in front of an audience ready to judge me. I still give my best in everything I do knowing that I could never satisfy everybody. Win or lose, I am comforted by the thought that I did not settle for second best.

I am on a journey towards success on the bumpy highway of epic fails. One thing I’m sure though is that I am a failure, but I’m most definitely not a mistake.

My name is Joevaline Juliet Soberano. Thank you, and good evening.

I did pretty well, I think, for a first timer. So looking forward to the next ones.

Btw, a colleague challenged me to finish the 10 exercises in 6 months… whew! It’s going to be tough but I’ll surely do my best. 🙂


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