I have numerable goals in life, chief of which is to get rid of stage fright.
Friends from high school would surely find the above statement blasphemous for they have always known me as that fearless gal onstage – I once made it to the headlines of our school paper for winning a trophy for Best Storyteller. I was a freshman then and the winning was my ticket to fame. I didn’t have to chase popularity.
But as they say it – nothing lasts forever. High school ended. I had to move on. College awaited me in the big city. Earlier on, however, I was already clearly seeing how the brightest-smartest-could-have-made-something-of-herself girl would later become a live wire of nervous hormones. Thanks to several knock-backs and bad experiences, I have eventually lost my confidence, my nerves.
But my fear or doubts or shyness never seemed to diminish my underlying desire to regain that lost confidence. When an online friend introduced me to Toastmasters International, I instantly saw it as the light at the end of the tunnel. Okay, I procrastinated for a while until after I had read Brittany’s testimony. It was only in April that I had finally decided to go for it.
I was getting the jitters days before the big day but the cheerleader in Megan (Walking The Labyrinth) had helped me to stay sane and on track. She was all, “You are a superstar and I can’t see you doing anything less than amazing.” She only had to say those words and wah-lah! I was a self-proclaimed Miriam Defensor Santiago caliber. I did feel like a superstar when I left my crib.
BUT, and you knew this was coming, things didn’t go as expected. It was a whammy. Everything I felt that was good had become bad and it had been magnified beyond any point of reference or comprehension and my ability to think in any identifiable way disappeared. I left my apartment feeling like a real superstar and came home feeling like a total wreck, sucking up tears.
I was planning to discontinue and get my money back and look for another club but in the end I decided to give it another try. I didn’t attend the next two Saturday sessions after my first time, – let’s call it the ill-fated day. I was only able to show up again just last Saturday. What took me so long? I had the following excuses contaminate my mind and willpower:
1. What if nobody shows up this time?
On that ill-fated day I was expecting a big turnout based on what Madam Toastmaster had said on the phone weeks before. But only three of us showed up in that meeting – Madam TM, army guy, and me. What ticked me the most was the fact that they were both late and I had to wait uncomfortably outside for them to arrive. Every moment seemed to be an eternity.
Last Saturday, though, the attendance wasn’t that bad. It was nice seeing new faces.
2. Thinking that if no available taxi passes by within fifteen minutes then it’s certainly a sign from the universe that it’s not worth attending those Toastmasters meetings.
Two Saturdays before last, I intentionally waited at an area where available taxis rarely pass by.
But who was I kidding? I realized I should stop waiting around for signs as they often get misinterpreted by me anyway.
3. Those construction workers in front of the venue ogling at me as if they have not seen a female counterpart in years.
It really irked me. I mean, hello! It’s just me. In high heels. Ever heard of h-i-g-h h-e-e-l-s?
Last Saturday, you bet they did again. They stared as if they were not going to see any beauty anymore.
4. Thinking that I will probably go batshit crazy the next time Madam Toastmaster mistakes me for Rosalie again.
Mrs. Lim is already in her seventies. I do respect her and although she has great credentials (she is a Distinguished Toastmaster – the highest recognition in TI thus far), I think she is already too old to be our trainer. She is also like a broken record. Imagine your mom nagging you about your messy bedroom all. the. time.
Last Saturday, I finally met Rosalie. We agreed to wear a name tag next time.
5. Army guy, with some help from his troop, might kidnap me and place me under a medieval torture device because the first time he tried being matey and chatty I wouldn’t respond with words, but with a look that said fart off.
I know I didn’t make a good impression on him on the same ill-fated day because I was really irritated and not pleased with the whole situation and I did make it obvious the whole time. I know I shouldn’t have been too bitchy, poor guy, but I really was so pissed. He was trying to be friendly but I was too poker-faced and very reticent. Exchanging pleasantries with anyone of them that time was just too insufferable.
Last Saturday, my second encounter with him wasn’t pleasant either. Suddenly he became a charlatan, giving out comments albeit unsolicited. He criticized the contents of my speech as if what he had just heard was pure garbage. It literally took every fiber in my body to not react harshly but the back of my throat became an inferno and I couldn’t hold my tongue anymore and to Rosalie I just had to grunt how annoying that army guy was.
6. That I might stutter and my mental neurons might fail to reach their firing potential thus causing mental block.
On that ill-fated day, Madam Toastmaster asked me if I was ready to make the speech. WELL DUH, I thought. And yet I refused to deliver my first project. I was like, “Uh, no. My speech is actually meant for a big crowd.” I wonder if I was suffering from an episode of insanity when I said that. Picture me face-palming now. The old lady must have thought I was already very eager to show off.
Last Saturday, I did not try to show off. I actually toned down and delivered as clearly and audibly as I could my Icebreaker Speech. I was nervous, yes, but I was a good actress. I was successful in concealing the nervousness and Madam Toastmaster applauded me for that. I mostly got positive remarks from her. The army guy a.k.a. charlatan? Zzzzz!