Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Neurosis is Showing

Yes, I've been feeling quite neurotic lately. Yes, even more than normal. But only about one thing in particular, not life in general. Mostly. Anyhoo.....

My company sponsors its own Toastmasters club and, a few months ago, my manager suggested I join. Ha. Right. Public speaking? That means people watch me while I try to sound clever and look like I know what I'm doing. Which I never do. The thought alone makes me want to run home and crawl under a blanket until my heart stops pounding like it wants to escape from my chest.

So I must have been in an ass-kissing mood the day he invited me to a meeting because I went, under the strict condition that I wouldn't get up and speak that day. And I didn't. I did sit there getting hot flashes and sweaty armpits just from watching other people speak. Fear of public speaking? I'd say I have it. Which turned out to be the exact reason why I decided to join Toastmasters. Lately I've had this crazy idea to conquer my fears and this is a big one to get over. Big. Huge.

The first speech is called the ice-breaker and it's basically a way of introducing yourself to the group. Usually, I am my favorite subject to talk about but this was difficult. What about me did I want to share with my coworkers? My manager? I couldn't think of anything that was interesting enough to talk about for five minutes and yet wasn't over sharing or inappropriate. I finally settled on my role as a mom. It's pretty easy to talk about my kid and I "cheated" by stitching together a speech with some of the things I have written here.

When speech time came, I pretty much wanted to puke my guts out. I thought puking on the floor in front of everyone would be preferable to standing in front of everyone talking. At least it wouldn't last as long. I was afraid I'd forget a part, or freeze up completely and forget the whole thing. I imagined I'd pass out, or sweat pools under my armpits. All really unappealing, unattractive images.

Then something else happened. Yes, my voice shook like I knew it would. I almost cried three separate times. I did forget a couple of small parts, just sentences really. I was pretty much frozen in one spot, probably looking as awkward as I felt. But I got through it. I remembered the important parts, the clever phrases and witty descriptions. People laughed in the right places and I wasn't the only one with tears in my eyes at the end. I shocked the hell out of myself. That rarely happens to me.

The other members of the group give the speaker written comments at the end, feedback on what was good, what can be done better the next time. Mine said things like "You made me cry", "poignant", "Thank you for sharing so much with us", "amazing". Some people told me they couldn't believe it was my first speech, another told me that I set the bar high for myself. Wow. Shocking, definitely.

This is where my neurosis comes in. I'm not done giving speeches. I have nine more to do in this first series. I just put a ton of pressure on myself. Now I have new fear of being a one hit wonder, along with having to get up and do it all over again.

I decided almost immediately the topic for my next speech but it has taken me over a month to write it. I finally wrote it today. I'm feeling pretty good about it. I'm an expert in the subject matter so that should help. A little. I hope.

Yeah, I'm just going to take the next week and a half to memorize it and psych myself up for it. The nausea is already setting in.


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