A few months ago I was asked to do a small presentation about some of the work I do with visually impaired children. Now, I’m not a great fan of public speaking. I get nervous, sweaty, croaky voiced just thinking about it and no matter how much I practise beforehand, I know I will inevitably fluff a bit or simply miss an entire section completely. My initial reactions to doing any public speaking have always been to run far, far away, bury my head in the sand and pretend I don’t exist – must be a different Alma they are asking! However, this time I said yes without even batting an eyelid.
Why, when I was still so scared of doing it?
Well, the thing is I had literally just finished reading a poster that said something along the lines of ‘instead of running away from your fears, run towards them’ and I was nodding vehemently in agreement when I got that email inviting me to speak. “Time to put your money where your mouth is”, I thought. And also, I’m a great believer in life sending me ‘signs’, scenarios (or opportunities if you will) to teach and help me get over whatever barricade I immediately start building whenever I feel fear.
So, with plenty of time ahead of me, I began making a small, rough plan of ideas peppered with a few anecdotes and then, partially parking it, I got on with getting caught up in Xmas festivities.
By the time I was back at work, I had succesfully managed to do a 5k run and my website had gone ‘live’. All that was left was this talk, yet somehow it didn’t feel as scary as before, though I wasn’t sure quite why that was.
Then, crunch time. A week to go I was asked to send my final draft with attached powerpoint slides for approval. Gulp! Looking over what I had so far managed, I realised that my entire presentation centred around giving children opportunities to face fears, be challenged, discover inner abilities and thus emerge triumphant, more resilient, courageous and empowered. That’s when I realised that over Xmas, I too had been setting up challenges for myself: to take up running (never run in my life), press the ‘live’ button on my website (eek!) and accept doing the presentation (although I freely admit to having had quite a few fantasies along the way of pretending I was sick that day, or that my car had broken down, or that I had a family illness/bereavment, my cat was in surgery etc). And because I had confronted and ovecome my own challenges, I too experienced triumph, courage and was now feeling pretty empowered. Ok, so not huge challenges but still, I had to start somewhere!
And so, on that big day, with these feelings of ‘yes I can’ uplifting me, I walked into that room with a smile on my face, a laptop in one hand and a usb stick in the other. (FYI, a few nerves did get the better of me and I inevitably overlooked those anecdotes, but who cares!)
From now on I will aspire to move towards my fears – while donning my new running shoes of course 🙂
- By doing smaller, more attainable challenges, I gained the sense of achievement and the little confidence boost needed to face a bigger task.
- It doesn’t matter what the fear or challenge is. What matters is taking any opportunity to face it.
- The fact that I didn’t do the presentation perfectly is OK, what counts is that I still did it!
- And remember, FEAR stands for Forget Everything And Run or, Face Everything And Rise.