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21:37 - Thursday, Apr. 11, 2013
terrified, exhilarated
Today I did something terrifying on purpose and now I feel exhilarated.

To be fair I feel exhilarated afterwards every time I am forced to commit acts of public speaking, just like when I was super scared of flying I used to feel like someone had shot me up with heroin the second the wheels touched the tarmac. Seriously - I have smoked opium before and how I used to feel when the wheels touched the tarmac was exactly, precisely the same. Like everything stressful and worrisome, even everything slightly unsettling, had magically melted away and there wasnít a thing in the world that could touch me.

I mean, if the plane didnít crash, if I didnít faint or puke at the podium, what else in the world could possibly ever go wrong?

Itís almost worth the hours, sometimes days, of nausea, chills, lack of appetite, and dry mouth that lead up to my having to speak. Almost.

I went to this public speaking workshop today because absolutely all of its conditions terrified me. I have very particular anxieties about public speaking that make no logical sense, but they donít mind that they don't make logical sense, so they persist anyway.

I dislike when you have to sit there in a circle and wait for your turn to creep towards you. Iíd rather just be minding my own business and have someone tap me on the shoulder and say ĎHey! Address this crowd.Ē (At this thing, we went in order of a list.)

I dislike small groups. Iíd rather address a crowd of 400 than a group of 4. (This thing consisted of a group of 10.)

I dislike looking people in the eye. (At this thing, Rule #1 was that you couldnít look down or away; you had to hold eye contact with one person at a time.)

But the thing is... I felt incredibly safe there. It wasnít that I didnít get nervous. It wasnít that my heart didnít thump in my ears or that my throat didnít swell up or that my hands didnít shake. All of those things definitely happened. It was just that I could see how, theoretically at least, it didnít matter that they did. That there was no rule stating that I had to feel comfortable, only that I had to stand in a particular place in a room and exist in front of people.

Iím not quite sure how else to write about this except to say that I think it might turn out to be the best step Iíve taken this year, and to make sure I have this recorded here (or somewhere, but here is as good a place as any) so the next time it comes around I don't have an excuse to say 'this is stupid' and not go.

 

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