Warning: naughty language ahead.
My palms were sweaty and my stomach was nauseous as I arrived to the very first day of my public speaking class.
I wanted to be anywhere but there.
I sat through the class and when it was let out I thought to myself, “That’s it, I’m dropping out. I can’t do this. There is no way I can do this”. For the rest of that afternoon I crafted the announcement that I would make to my family and friends explaining to them why I was dropping out of school.
“Why!?” they would ask, “you just got there”.
To that my reply would be, “Because public speaking class is required and I can’t do it. I’m scared shitless.”
Ugh. How lame.
Thinking about breaking the news to the people I loved was shitty. On the other hand, the thought of getting up in front of my class, behind that dinky wooden podium in the small and poorly lit room felt like death.
I was totally conflicted and pissed at myself for being so scared.
What the hell was wrong with me?
People did this everyday. I was trying my best to be logical but the physical sensations that I was experiencing trumped any fleeting logic that I had.
After a couple of long and sleepless nights, I made the decision to stay in school and get through the class the best that I could.
Worse case scenario, I forget my speech, I fart while trying to remember it and then I trip while walking away from the podium. Even if all of that happened, I thought, I will still be alive. Right?
My public speaking class rolled around and it was time to sign up for the day that I was to give my first speech.
I decided that I wanted to get it over with, so I picked the very next week. I would get my first speech out of the way early and then happily sit through everyone else’s, not because I was happy to be in class but because my speech would be over and that would be the best feeling that I had ever felt in my entire life.
My speech was penciled in for the following Wednesday, and the week leading up to doomsday was a tough one.
I perpetually had a heavy weight on my shoulders that felt like a boulder. Every time I thought about my speech, chills went up my spine, my feet felt funny, my palms started to sweat and I felt like vomiting.
These feelings proceeded to get worse the closer I got to Wednesday.
I was regretting not dropping out of school.
Tuesday night I went to bed and I prayed that when I woke up, school would magically be in the next quarter, Public Speaking class done, out of the way. Moving on.
But when I woke up, sadly it was Wednesday.
But wait—when I opened my mouth to say something, there was nothing.
I literally couldn’t talk.
I had completely lost my voice. My voice wasn’t raspy from a cold (or the cigarettes I was smoking), my voice was gone. I could whisper ever so quietly and that was it.
Wouldn’t you know it—I had manifested losing my voice two hours before I was scheduled to give my first speech. I called my teacher and whispered to her that there was no possible way I could give my speech in my condition.
I avoided it for one more week.
This was the first time that the connection between the mind and the body was so blatantly obvious to me. If my mind successfully got me out of doing my speech, what else could it do?
I was fascinated by this and I still am.
This is why I say sweet nothings to myself, why I go through the world seeing the good in people and in situations.
This is why I choose love over fear every single day.
This is why I love and nurture my body by feeding it lots of organic whole plant food.
This is why I meditate.
Why I drink green juice.
Why I do yoga.
Why I always pause when I catch myself thinking “I can’t do this” and without judgement, choose to tell myself something else instead.
This is why I be sure to laugh every day and why I will never take myself too seriously
It took me many years to get here, but in a way, my public speaking class (the very thing that paralyzed me with fear) played a key role in who I am and how I operate in the world today.
I tell you this story to remind you to be loving to yourself.
Honor your body’s needs, feed yourself nourishing food, get out and break a sweat; talk to yourself in a loving and positive way, smile with your whole soul, and please, don’t forget to play.
And I want to remind you that it is never too late to make this shift. If you’ve treated yourself poorly in the past, you can choose a different way when you’re ready and your body will respond.
Before I wrap this up, I should tell you how the whole public speaking class panned out.
Since I literally couldn’t speak, I signed up for the following Wednesday to give my speech. By Wednesday morning I was ready to get it over with just so I could get some sleep and finally eat something other than crackers.
When I finally got up in front of my class and started talking, my voice sounded completely foreign to me and I immediately felt like I had left my body. Whoever was speaking, it wasn’t me. I didn’t have a clue what I said or if I even followed my cue cards. I finally came back to my body after I took my seat and my critique had started (I did not trip, which I was thankful for).
My teacher and classmates said I did a good job which surprised me.
I painfully struggled through each of my next speeches until the quarter was finally over.
In the end, it turned out that no one had a clue that I was struggling but me because I got an A in the class.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Carrie Marzo / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Kim McAvoy / Pixoto