I’ve had a few interviews over the years. Not many, I mean, the average amount you’d expect a 16 year old to have in their repertoire. They’ve always been nerve-wracking, but that tension lasts about as long as my silence does; the pattern goes that as soon as I open my big fat mouth, all that nervousness disappears and I’m the most confident, arrogant person you could imagine.
…hopefully not arrogant though. That bit was me projecting on a fear. I sure hope I don’t sound arrogant when I’m speaking. Oh, god, now I’m freaking out over this.
But, really, I pride myself on my social skills; it’s the one thing I can always depend on when I feel down about everything else, which actually happens a lot. “Wow, my drawing sucks – but that’s okay, I can kick butt in debates.”
Before I go on a tangent, gushing about the interview, I’m just gonna interject here and talk a little about my eloquence over the years. I remember, as a kid, I used to always participate in class. If there was a question, my hand’d be in the air. I didn’t care if my answer was wrong or right, I just wanted to get my words out. I couldn’t help it. I was Hermione Granger, avec the bushy hair and everything. (Only not as bossy, which, it may be argued, is a flaw in my nature.)
At every parent-teacher meeting, there was one phrase that troubled me a lot. “Neiha’s very talkative.”
The horror. The horror. That word was like a stain upon my honor. “Talkative.” But how?! I didn’t talk much to my friends during class! And even if I did, I was skilled enough to not get caught doing it. What did they mean, talkative?!
See, if you’re a kid in a Pakistani school, you tend to take the word “talkative” almost as a slur against you. It’s the absolute worst thing you could be. No questions asked, you’re a terrible human being if you’re talkative. As I got older, though, I began to realize that maybe being talkative isn’t a bad thing. There’s many other things a teacher could call you that’s worse.
(I vaguely remember a teacher remarking that I was a quiet student. I think that’s one of the most insulting things anyone’s ever said to me.)
Despite my talkative nature, I wasn’t very good at handling crowds. I always got nervous, always had my hands shaking and palms sweating and lips all red from being bitten within an inch of their lippy lives. I never really liked the idea of presentations anyway.
Then 10th Grade came around. And I was accepted into First Language English, which is kind of a big deal. And then we were EXPECTED to know how to present impeccably. At least our class was small; 24 students, all of whom were nervous about presenting. It could be worse.
It got worse.
For some obscure reason, the humanities department at our school decided to pick me to tell the entirety of Key Stage 3 about the beauty of humanities! That’s about…300-odd people, I’d wager.
I freaked out to my best friend, who tend told me to take on the personality of one of the characters I’d thought up; a character whose entire career centered around elocution and being articulate and making a lasting impression. It wasn’t likely to work, in my mind, but I tried it anyway.
It worked magnificently.
And I never looked back after that. Presentations are one of my favorite things to do, now. I love debates, I love presentations, I love throwing myself out there and just speaking my heart out about anything and everything that comes to my mind. All because of that one piece of advice, I changed my entire gameplan for my mustaqbil*.
Back to the interview, now.
I have never been as nervous for an interview as I was for this one. I mean, it was with a Princeton alumnus – he was going to be bloody brilliant and the last thing I wanted to do was come across as a complete idiot!
For two hours, up until the actual interview, I rambled incoherently; I fought half-heartedly to quell the butterflies raging in my stomach; I wiped my perspiring hands on my skirt, only to have them flood like five seconds later.
In short, I was a hot mess.
But then I met this Princeton alumnus – and he was amazing. Intelligent, articulate, friendly, aware of Pakistani politics! I’m not even joking, we must have spent ten minutes discussing Pakistan, its future, present, past, foreign policy, internal strife. The second he began speaking, my nervousness died out and I was Neiha Lasharie again, the same girl my third grade teacher called talkative, the same girl who stood in front of 300 brats and gushed about humanities, the same girl who articulated the middle finger at dear USA in an MUN caucus, the same girl who held her finger to an ignorant person’s lips in the middle of a formal debate and said, “Hush. Stop Talking.”
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Neiha Lasharie, and I’m damn good at talking.
Do not make me stop.
*future in Urdu.