Public speaking with social anxiety almost feels impossible. It’s probably one of the things I get asked about most.
I remember my body shutting down every time I was told we’d be doing a presentation at school and the feeling of complete fear I had when my therapist suggested that I put public speaking as one of my goals.
What was she thinking? Why the heck would I ever want to do that?
And yet, there I was a couple of years later, the day of my 2 hour long guest talk about my horror photography– practising my words over and over again, afraid that they wouldn’t sink in.
Quickly shuffling my prints into frames and all of my props into one oversized tote bag. My hands trembling, my stomach churning and my heart racing at a pace it has never gone before.
I must have thought to myself a hundred times “I can cancel, I could just pretend that I’m sick and not go, I don’t have to do this if I really don’t want to” but an even bigger thought occurred to me every time; It wasn’t that I didn’t want to let everyone down, which was obvious, but I really didn’t want to cancel, I wanted to do this and I wanted to do this for myself.
I didn’t want to let social anxiety take away yet another dream!
So I did it, I went.
As the people entered the room and sat down, and my microphone was being fitted to my blouse and I could feel myself shaking all over.
I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be saying, so I looked over my notes about 20 times until the room fell silent and the lights were turned off.
There were just over 50 people in the room. Little did they know I’d be public speaking with social anxiety. Would they notice how anxious I was?
The projector lit up behind me and my presentation was ready. I stumbled on my words a little and had to refer to my notes to remember what I was saying but only for the first 5 minutes.
After the first 5 minutes, it was a breeze. I sailed through it. I felt confident. In control. People laughed at my jokes. I spoke clearly, loudly and kicked my social anxiety in the ass!
Once the presentation was over, people told me how different it was, how much of a breath of fresh air it was, how much they enjoyed it.
Not only that, but several people told me how passionately I spoke about my work and asked me if I did lots of these presentations, seeming surprised when I told them that this was my first time public speaking.
And I think that’s what it comes down to. Passion.
When you want something so much that it keeps you awake at night, you should stop at nothing to get it. You should get up everyday and work towards making it happen. Regardless of how long it takes you to get there.
Now I can say that I’ve done public speaking with social anxiety, that I would do it again, and next time I’ll be even better and I can do anything I set my mind to because I never in a million years thought that I could pull that off.
I encourage you all to tell me what it is you’d like to do? What is Social Anxiety holding you back from? What little goals are you putting in place to get there?