Do you remember that feeling in your stomach when your grade school teacher was scanning the room to see who would be giving the next speech in class? I couldn’t forget that feeling even if I had 1 billion dollars to invest in therapy. It was moments such as that which helped me to truly understand the notion that time is relative, depending on the situation.
Just think about it if you dare! Think about your sweaty palms, consider your right leg which somehow became possessed and started gyrating uncontrollably as though an Elvis song were playing exclusively under your desk. Try to recall as your teacher looked slowly around the room, scanning for some mysterious element which would sway their decision to select the next victim. Do you remember that sense of total accomplishment when the teacher failed to call your name? It was as though the temporary delay of your speech giving was forever absolved…until the next person was finished- and then it would start all over again!!!!!
That was essentially the total sum of my entire formative years. I didn’t want attention, I didn’t need it, and when it came my way I would do my best impression of a piece of Jello in order to jiggle out of that hopeless situation.
Then something strange happened!
At some point- though I can’t say exactly when- an urge began consuming me which I couldn’t suppress. This urge would best compared to a dam with an increasingly spreading crack down the side of it. I wanted to become a person who could speak in front of huge audiences and bring them great laughter. Throughout my middle school years I grappled with this strange cocktail of emotions which ranged from paralyzed with fear from the notion of public speaking to paralyzed with fear from the notion of not becoming a person who could publicly speak.
It was a lose/lose situation, but then again- isn’t middle school a lose/lose situation? Anybody with me?
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the only way out of my personal hell was to go fight like a little muskrat for a scrap of food. It wasn’t pretty, but I essentially clawed my way out of the deepest depths of being an introverted youth to becoming a well known class clown. Here is a step by step list of how I went from being the kid that never talks to the unstoppable word machine I evolved into.
- I pictured myself as a great comedian (no matter how unfunny my jokes were back then- it didn’t matter because I knew in my heart of hearts that I was going to be a great speaker)
- I tried, I failed, I tried, I failed, I tried again and then eventually I succeeded a bit and then I failed really big, and then I tried again. (Get the picture? You will never be as good as you want to all the time without practice, and even then results are never guaranteed…ever)
- I practiced on myself all the time. (I learned in middle school that there is great value in talking to yourself. There is a lot of stigma around that topic, but it’s super fun. When you talk to yourself, you learn how to express your ideas in words and the great thing is You always want to listen to yourself!)
- I wanted to succeed more than I wanted to be boring or average. (Some people are really happy with mediocrity…not this guy)
- I had someone to talk to. (If you try to go through a metamorphosis by yourself things will get messy. It’s important that you have someone patient to listen to you rant about your failures- but who will eventually remind you to try again. If you don’t have friends like that- get new friends!)
- Mirrors and recordings. (You need to get over how you look and sound when you speak. At first it’s like having open heart surgery, but once you get used to it- you have the power of seeing yourself objectively)
- I didn’t stop. (I still speak publicly all the time!)
- I realized that it wasn’t about me at all! (When you think about yourself, public speaking becomes a source of angst, but when you flip your perspective and see that public speaking is about the PUBLIC, then you enter a much healthier and more natural state of mind!)
Just for the record, I have since become a professional public speaker- in the realm of comedy and also spirituality. I still get super nervous at times, and on several occasions I shock myself at how bad I am. But my objectivity allows me to keep pushing on because at the end of the day IF YOU WANT TO HELP PEOPLE, YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK TO THEM!!! THE MORE PEOPLE YOU WANT TO HELP, THE BIGGER THE AUDIENCE!
You can do it!!!!!!