A Story of Growth
On Sunday, I spoke about branding and social media with some fellow bloggers and small businesses. It was a public speaking engagement— I did the exact same one last year. Over the past few days, since that engagement, I’ve been comparing those two versions of myself and all the little versions in between and I have some things to share.
I feel like I don’t get vulnerable online often, so this one may be a doozy for a ?Toosdee (Tuesday, but make it rhyme... I’ve been married to a songwriter for too long 😂)
Two Years Ago: I saw the inaugural event. The first annual Bosses and Bloggers Event and I was JEALOUS. I was telling myself all kinds of exclusionary and disqualifying things about WHY I wasn’t invited. I made it my MISSION to attend the next year. I took the challenge— I didn’t know how I would do it, but I knew that I wanted to find a way. I made what I call a “Secret Goal” for myself to get invited to this event. I worked on my content, and looked for opportunities to get “in”.
I DID IT!!!! Not only was I invited to this event that I was so envious of the year before, I was invited to be on the speaker’s lineup. “Talk about Social Media”.
.... okay.. I wanted to ATTEND, not necessarily speak. Public Speaking, while fabulous in theory, is so scary. But I was afraid to get un-invited, so I took the challenge.. I wrote a SCRIPT. A whole script. And practiced for WEEKS leading up to this. Fights ensued between Shawn and me. I speak at Ribbon Cuttings, not big informative events. The frustration and the pressure was REAL. I knew that I had valuable things to say, but I was terrified that I wouldn’t sound like *this person* or *that person* . The comparison monster got me, and every time I reworked my script, I freaked myself out a little more. The Sunday of the event, Shawn and I didn’t speak the whole ride to Picayune (like, and hour car ride).
I felt as prepared as I could have been. I believed in my content, and took some pointers that I had learned from some business leaders I know and trust. I didn’t choke when I was up on the stage, necassarily, but I basically blacked out. I leaned on the podium, my words were shaky, and I was so afraid of judgement. It took my 20 minutes after my speech to calm down. (I even went to the bathroom after to give myself a pep talk). That night, during my skin care routine, I vowed that I would work hard to never feel THAT afraid of public speaking again. I had things that I wanted to say, and I didn’t want to be afraid to speak up and say them. I would put in the work and the repititions to BE BETTER. I would not let my fear of discomfort and public speaking own me. I had too many things I wanted to do and be, and they ALL involved pubic speaking.
During The Year:
I volunteered for every speaking opportunity that came my way. Every ribbon cutting I would direct, I would try a new public speaking tactic. I paid attention to cadence in podcasters and stage presence of reporters, presenters, and performers. I became (and still am) a total student of public speaking. I was on a mission to put myself out there as much as possible. Little by little, not only did I learn more about public speaking, I learned more about the topics I LIKED to speak about. I found rituals and routines and content that I liked that made me feel confident (like the magic of Hamilton and a good tan).
I was invited back to Bosses and Bloggers!! Not only to attend, but to speak AGAIN. I agreed, without hesitation. I was excited, not scared. I wanted to do a great job, sure, but I was more confident in my abilities as a speaker. Shawn and I were able to talk through an outline without getting into an argument. I was able to spend time with other attendees and make new friends. I had more details that I was pleased with than ones I wished I could have changed. Were there a few mistakes? Of course, but I had done enough “studying” to know that most speakers make mistakes, and I was able to correct course (and even laugh at myself) as opposed to letting those missteps completely derail me. I am proud of how far I’ve come in just a year’s time.
All of this little timelined story to say: Do it afraid, and then take the steps to face your fear. If you’re afraid to meet new people, take baby-steps to facing that fear. Whatever it is. We’re on a journey of little-by-little self-improvement. Don’t overwhelm yourself. I’m not signing up to give a TEDTalk anytime soon, but I am much more at ease speaking in front of groups of people, and I look forward to being a participant in my own growth and reflecting on my growth next year, too!
In whatever way you’re becoming better, I’m cheering for you!