Many of us have felt it: the dreaded moment of standing in front of a crowd, ready to give a speech.
After all those hours of preparing what we were to say, we fall silent—immobilized by the waiting eyes and ears.
As we search to find the words, it feels like hours, even days. In that pause, the words we arduously prepared feel still and unreal just like the crowd frozen before us.
I have been there in that moment, waiting to break the silence.
When I begin, I say what comes to my mind—letting go of order, tossing away what I worked so hard to prepare. I feel so confident. Like I have climbed a long way to the top of a mountain. Once I am there, on that mountain top, my fear is way behind me, left somewhere on the slopes. I have come through the hardest part.
My irrational thoughts fade and I say what I know most deeply as if I were the only one in the audience. Because that’s all stage fright really is—worrying that what we say or do will not be good enough. Once we let go of the judgment we have for ourselves there is nothing we cannot say.
Prepared so neatly in my mind,
I knew my story,
Sure of what to say.
But when I walked into the room
All that was important walked away.
Silent I stand embarrassed—
Screams of the night,
Ring true in my brain.
The crowd waits patiently
For those words once neatly prepared,
Now lost from my mind.
I smile and look around—
but nothing, not a thing, is there.
Afraid I have forgotten to speak
that momentary lapse of speech
As they sat waiting,
At the edges of their seats,
Leaps off my tongue—
Words in a jumbled order,
Impromptu and sincere.
What I thought made no sense,
Just transformed and recombined,
To find a moment I tried
So desperately to define.
Author: Jane CoCo Cowles
Image: Cliff/ Flickr
Editors: Khara-Jade Warren; Catherine Monkman