Hi, world, my name is Patricia and I am an Introvert
I remember the first time I had to hold a presentation in front of my Uni classmates. There were around 20 people in front of me, we were one month in – so I kind of knew everyone by then. I had a powerpoint presentation and the paper was about my time spent in Japan. So it’s safe to say it was a subject I knew damn well and I was passionate about it. I got in front of the classroom, started presenting and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breath. My mind was racing, but I couldn’t focus and I couldn’t form any words. I tried to breathe in and read everything off the slides. It was horrendous.
In our second year, we had a public speaking course. Each week, we had to prepare some sort of a speech – we had to talk about our favourite books, present the news, do a stand-up comedy number you get it. I hated every single moment of it – it scared me shitless (again, talking in front of a bunch of people I was friendly with).
This spring, I got a proposal from Glamour, who invited me to be a speaker at their event, Glamour Beauty Festival. My first instinct was to refuse – I couldn’t do it. My whole body was paralysed with feat. But I said yes. I had to do it. My first thought after accepting was how will I get my hands on some xanax or something to help me go through with it?
I didn’t manage to get any xanax or anything similar and the event was approaching. I was downright terrified. The event and the speech were my last thoughts before going to sleep and my first when I woke up. That in the night that I could sleep, as during most I would toss and turn until 4am, obsessively reciting my speech in my mind. It was horrible, I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared and constantly under crippling stress & pressure the way I was those two weeks before the event.
The day of the event eventually came. I felt sick to my stomach the whole morning. My speech got delayed a few hours, which only made it worse. Every time we would walk by the room the speeches were held in I felt faintish. I know this sounds kind of dramatic, but I swear I really, truly felt this way. My friend Sabeen was with me and that calmed me down a little, however that day was by far one of the scariest and hard to go though in my life.
I didn’t back down, though. The fear was crippling, however I sat down on that couch, I grabbed a microphone and I said what I had to say. It was not perfect, my voice was shaky and I almost started crying at one point – to be fair and give myself some extra points, I was talking in detail about my bulimia in front of a bunch of strangers (illness I’ve kept secret from my friends and family for years), so it was understandable. While I was talking, something in me changed. I felt like I could breathe again and that my body was slowly relaxing, as if fear finally loosened its grip. I could see the reaction on people’s faces – they frowned, they smile, sometimes they even laughed.
For the first time in my life, I could see the real impact my words have on people and that made facing my fear of public speaking more than worth it.
It still was with me, though. I was better at controlling it, this time, however as people started filling the cinema for DoR Live, I could feel the fear embrace me again. I’ve talked in front of people before, I liked it, however it was never more than 30-40. This time I was getting ready to hold a speech in front of 600 people. Six damn hundred people. Even if I made a list with all the people I have ever known, I don’t think it would reach 600. I was among the last ones to go on stage, so I did my best to enjoy the ones who spoke before me and not think about my turn.
Right before going on stage, all kind of thoughts were going through my head, from “oh god please don’t let me trip” to “what if I fart when I’m on stage, will the microphone pick it up?”. Eventually I tripped, however I did not fart, so at least there’s that. I was encouraging myself by obsessively repeating: “What could possibly go wrong? You just have to go up there and read an essay off a paper. You can read. You have the paper. There’s literally nothing that could go wrong.”.
Ha. HA. HAH!!! I believe karma heard me and guess what? When I got on stage, there were this strong lights on me, which one the one hand made it better, as I couldn’t see the public and that made me less scared. ON THE OTHER HAND, THEY WERE SO STRONG THAT THEY MADE MY PAPERS SEE THROUGH AND I COULD BARELY MAKE OUT THE WORDS ANYMORE.
Yea. So, note to future self: do not dare karma to prove you that there’s always something that can go wrong. Cause she will. But I did it. I said my speech and, this time, my voice didn’t shake (my legs did, though) and I didn’t cry.