Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Speak easy

On this, the seventh day of April, I woke up thinking winter was a thing of the past - after all, didn't I walk around in flats and no jacket just a few days ago? It was spring. I snuggled deeper into bed wondering why my apartment felt so chilly today. Must be because I threw off my blanket. I sleepily shuffled into slippers and prepared to squint as I opened the blinds to let the sunlight in.


I have to say a few words tomorrow. I nominated someone for an award and they won, and now they've asked me to say a few words of introduction tomorrow at the awards ceremony. I was about to respond, but as I stared at the blank email window, I paused.

I first learned to be afraid of public speaking in middle school. Everyone always seemed to wish you luck or say 'you'll do fine' or make big eyes if you had a presentation or had to say something on a stage. And so I started looking at the audience, no matter if it was just a classroom full of my own peers, and getting faint tremblings in my heart. Of course before middle school I would get that nervous anticipation, that adrenaline rush, before going on stage, but this was something new. This was that fear of public speaking that everyone talks about. And often what everyone talks about becomes real. And so I, along with, I suppose, 99% of the population, developed a fear of public speaking.

It never got so bad that I couldn't control it, but it did make me shy away from things that would entail public speaking. When I was little being the center of attention was super. What's wrong with everyone looking at you? Wasn't that what I had cried for when I was a wee little babekin and my mom looked away from me and towards my sister? From the time I was a baby until I was about twelve I would take part in at least one play or performance a year. From the age of twelve...well, let's just say my acting career is so far by the wayside now that it's pretty much dug its own grave and shriveled up into it. But I missed it. There's something about being the center of attention that just entices me, attracts me - but still I shy away from it. Talk about inner conflict! I fought against this in college then. I decided it was alright to put myself in positions where I'd have to talk in front of an audience now and then. I joined clubs, I introduced speakers. I still hesitate before taking on things like moot court, but at least I wholeheartedly sign up for classes where I know I'll be required to make a couple of presentations. I ended up where I had been before middle school - still that same jolt of adrenaline, that anticipation, but not fear. Not exactly.

And today, when I thought the winter had said its fond farewells, there it was again on my window pane. And there was that fear of public speaking in the email window on my computer. Swirling down all around, pull out your winter coat, clear your throat, which scarf to wear...

I pulled on my boots and gloves. After all, this snow, whether it's just visiting or here to stay, there's not much I can do about it except to suit up.

I typed "Sure, I'd love to!" That fear of public speaking might surprise me from time to time, but damn it, it isn't here to stay.

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