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Toastmasters speech #3: Love at Second Sight

We have all heard that story before. Boy enters room, catches sight of girl across a room full of people, their eyes meet, time slows down to a standstill, a romantic song starts to play, they fall in love and live happily ever after.

“It was love at first sight. We were meant to be.” They would both recall on their wedding day.

Right. Love at first sight. That elusive thing that we all worship and dream about. But you know what? I don’t know about you, but I have never experienced it before. Not with a person, or anything else in the world for that matter. Never.

So now what? Am I supposed to just resign myself to the fact that the people I meet, the food I eat, or the jobs I have, are just, never meant to be, and I should just, give up?

I refuse to accept this. And today, dear madam toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen, I am here to persuade you to change your mind about love at first sight. It is overrated and creates limitations rather than opportunities. I believe that good things, amazing things can happen if you would just give them a second, or even third, chance.

To illustrate my argument, I am going to tell you three stories.

The first one is about a boy. His name is Glenn and I met him six years ago. Yes, this is a love story. But it did not start out as one.

I remember the first time I met him was in a salsa class at CERN. But he remembers differently, until today he is adamant that we first met each other at a rock concert. Terribly memorable first impressions, as you can tell.

And it gets better. We both actually have terrible first impressions of each other. I kept a blog back then, and on the day I met him I wrote in my blog. “Met this Belgian guy in salsa class. Arrogant SOB. Will not go out with him even if drunk. Ha Ha Ha.” I am quite the writer, I know.

His first impression of me wasn’t much better either. It was succinctly told to me by one of our common friends “He said you have a bad sense of humour.”

I know, right? Well maybe he reads my blog.

Through chance or choice, we became friends and remain friends for the next two years. We hung out, travelled together, partied, fought, shared secrets and I slowly realised that this arrogant SOB is actually pretty great. So great that when he asked me out two years later I agreed, while under no influence of alcohol or any other substances. Feel like I should clarify that. We got married two years later. And there were no stories of love at first sight at our wedding.

The second story is about my life calling and I have a confession to make. Although I made the decision to study Engineering out of my own will, I actually hated it. It was something I thought I should do, but not something I wanted to do. I spent five years of my life in University feeling like a creative soul trapped in a square wheel that just wouldn’t stop turning.

It wasn’t until I started working at CERN, the biggest particle physics laboratory in the world, and got involved in some serious frontier pushing scientific projects, that my feelings started to change.

Once I got past the formulas and exams and see science for what it really is, a powerful tool for us to understand the world, I fell in love. It was like a switch just clicked and the wheels were round again. I realised that I didn’t actually hate science or engineering. I just didn’t understand it yet in the grand scheme of things. Once I opened up my mind to accept its beauty, there was no turning back.

The last story is about my turbulent romance with this stinky little thing called cheese. Right now we are on pretty good terms but 10 years ago I just could not stand the sight and smell of it. I mean, if you think about it, cheese is essentially milk that has turned bad.

I wonder what was the first person who discovered cheese  thinking. “Hey this milk has been sitting out here for days. It smells kind of funky and … are those worms? Let’s put it in my mouth and see how it tastes … ”

Anyway when I first arrived in Europe, also known as the cheese capital of the world, I refused to eat cheese. If there is cheese in a dish I would leave it untouched and I don’t know, order a beer instead.

But I guess by now you get the gist of my stories. It took me almost seven years to accept it into my heart, this stinky one, even longer than love or career. Those things are trivial. But cheese … now pardon my cheesy language, but I am just so glad I did not give up on cheese. Life just wouldn’t have been half as aromatic.

So ladies and gentlemen, what did we learn from my three love stories?

Think about it, the chances of us not loving something or some people the very first time we experience it or meet them are just so much higher than the chances that we do. If we are forever hoping or pining for that lightning strike moment, how many things are we missing out on? How many doors have you left unopened? How many ‘arrogant SOB’ have you let slipped through your fingers?

So the next time you meet someone, or experience something new and hear that familiar little voice in your head going “Nah, not my cup of tea.” Ignore it. If I can overcome my cheese phobia, so can you. Let’s give love a second chance.

Thank you.


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