So last night, every speaker’s nightmare came true…
Actually, scratch that, last night, every person who fears public speaking’s nightmare came true.
My mind went blank.
I got up on stage, delivered a few lines, got people giggling, then boomph, nothing.
No words, no thoughts, nothing.
Rabbit à la headlights.
I’d get it if I were supposed to be giving a talk about Celtic coins or current SEO trends which I would have had to learn about in advance, but I planned to talk about myself and my experiences – something I talk, write and teach about regularly. It’s my own life FFS, not rocket science!
Well the good news is, I didn’t die.
I think that’s what most people fear about the whole public speaking thing. But I’m still here to tell the tale and I wasn’t swallowed by shame either and this is what I’d like to talk about – sometimes the Universe delivers things to show you how far you’ve come.
Last night, I got up on stage, introduced myself and started telling the tale about growing up with low self-esteem and having no confidence and how that can contribute to things like depression and anxiety. I’m guessing the small vulnerable part inside me was feeling, well, small and vulnerable opening up on this occasion, so my protective saboteur hopped right in and took over the controls of my brain.
There’s a part of your brain, your ego (what I call the headcunt at times) doesn’t like you stepping out of your comfort zone so it gathers the ‘protection’ crew to throw in something like shame to stop you making a tit of yourself and as a result, you either do make a full on tit of yourself, or you go and beat yourself up afterwards. Ego loves that:
“Ha, look at you, getting too big for your boots.”
“You made a right fool of yourself. You’re not going to speak in public again.”
“Everyone was laughing at you.”
Except this time, that didn’t happen.
I’m honestly pleased to say that the biggest ‘negative’ feeling I had was disappointment. I had a chance to tell around 100 people that they’re not alone and share the work I do and I messed up, got in a fluster, all out of breath as my lungs are still recovering from whooping cough.
I did feel a pang of shame, but it went away quickly and so, I actually found this whole experience profoundly healing.
I know I’m a fucker for silver linings and sprinkling positivity everywhere but even this took me by surprise.
So I just wanted to share with anyone who gets fed up and frustrated by life, the universe and everything throwing a spanner in the works when things are going well but there’s always a reason – it’s there to show you, you either haven’t fully learnt your lesson and it’s giving you more work to do or, in my case last night, that you’ve come a long way baby.
I didn’t judge myself, I didn’t let the negative inner chatter steal the show, I didn’t give up. I treated myself with respect and kindness, because you know what, we’re all human, we all fuck up and it’s what makes us relatable and likable.
And whilst my nervous system perceived this as a threat, and still threw me into a freeze response, it was so refreshing to see the inner work I’ve done pay off where I not only didn’t think unkind things about myself, but also that I didn’t die of shame afterwards either.
I was kind to myself and will continue to do so until my nervous system catches up to see that speaking on stage is not the same as a big grizzly bear.
I just want to say that most people prefer someone bumbling along but having a go rather than someone all polished who looks like they have all their shit together. It’s much more relatable and shows that we’re all human.
I’m really proud that I didn’t let one whoopsie cloud over all the other successes I’ve had lately – old me would have almost died of shame and gone into hiding. I’ve done remarkably well lining up opportunities and sharing my message since the new year and I guess part of me didn’t feel safe there and wanted to knock me back into my comfort zone. And that’s ok. I see it. I allowed it. I’ve let it go.
TLDR: You won’t die if you fluff up on stage. Pinky promise!
p.s. if this resonated with you and you want support working through this, Professional Rebel’s Courage and Confidence Crew is just what you need!
A community for unconventional, creative and rebellious women who want to develop the courage and confidence to live life unedited – find out more here!
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