November 14, 2011

Death, DC Traffic, and Public Speaking

Dancing on national television definitely describes my definition of fear. In addition to not being gifted with dancing feet, I am terrified to speak in public, much less perform. Not the greatest fear to have as a published author.

Speaking in small groups, twenty or less, I can do. It feels personal. It's a whole different matter if I have to stand up front. To combat my shaking hands, I'm a walker. I'll pace back and forth while I speak. But this does nothing to squelch nervous energy. God forbid there's a podium, and I'm expected to deliver a speech. Off the cuff is fine, delivering a speech feels like performing. My hands shake so bad, each time I turn a page of my speech the page does its own kind of dance.

Yet, I don't give into this fear. I've spoken to larger and larger groups since Depression Cookies came out. I'd love to say it gets easier. I can't. Nausea still rises and the hands still shake. But I have gained confidence that I won't die. It's progress.

My biggest fear... losing people I care about. I'm very fortunate so far, because my parents are both living (and youngsters in their early 60's). I loved my grandparents, but we only saw them once a year my whole life. I was sad when they passed, but more for my parent's loss than my own. I can't imagine the day I lose one of my parents, sisters, husband, or the unthinkable... one of my children. Sadly, this fear is one I will have to face and overcome some day. But in no way do I look forward to it.

I'm also terrified of DC traffic. I grew up in small towns. Rush hour occurred only during major town events or high school football games. I do not drive on the beltway if I can help it. I would need to take an aggressive driving course to have a fighting chance. It amazes me. Do people not get it? Frustrated drivers weaving in and out, going over the speed limit, are responsible for an object that can kill people. A frustrated, impatient person waving a gun would be arrested. Drivers, rarely. I face this fear only when there's no other way. I carry precious cargo in my car, and I can't drive safely enough to counteract the insanity.

Someday, if I'm ever so fortunate, I'll have a career-changing speech in Washington, DC requiring me to drive the beltway in rush hour. I'll do it, but I'll need a friendly doctor to take pity and prescribe Valium. Lots of it.

What are you afraid of? How do you overcome it?


Shreya said...

Nice write up. Very true, I also go through these kinda experiences whenever I have to speak in front of a group of people. I really have a cold feet on stage, I feel butterflies in my stomach. But then a feeling comes that I am standing here alone because I am master today.. yea that's why I am here. Don't forget "WINNER STANDS ALONE". I fear such presentations, I just consider audience as fool and am the only master. And fear gradually decreases. Good luck, God bless :)

Have a look at my page:

Tia Bach said...

Thanks, Shreya, for stopping by and leaving such inspirational words. I will think of that from now on when facing fear.

Your site is gorgeous!

Ginnie Butterfly said...

Like you, I dread public speaking, even if only 10 people are around - unless they are children (doesn't seem to affect me the same) How do I face that? I’m a ashamed to say that I have resorted to a little Liquid Courage on a couple of occasions. But it’s not how I wish to handle it all the time so I either avoid it… or make sure I am well prepared!

Loosing my child is at the top of the list though and no amount of preparation can help me face that. I hope to never have to live through that.

On a brighter note, good for you that you face your fears and I really do enjoy reading your posts :)

Tia Bach said...

Well prepared helps me, too. Nothing worse than being asked to speak with a day preparation time! I, too, emply avoidance strategies.

Thanks for stopping by. I also enjoy your blog and adventures!

Jayne said...

I too loathe and detetst public speaking. And like you I am fine in small groups. I have no problem speaking up at university in tutorials, but could not speak to a packed lecture theatre! I am trying to get over this fear, and feel I am making progress-I can now give a speech in front of a class of 20, whereas years ago the mere thought was enough o make me drop out of uni (hence one reason I'm now back as a mature age student lol).

It's a very common phobia, yet it always feels like others are so calm and polished and I'm the only nervous wreck lol

Tia Bach said...

Jayne, Thanks for commenting. I always think it's common, too, but then I see great speakers. Maybe they just hide it better, or maybe people don't notice mine as much as I do. Hmm.