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?