June 06, 2012

The Former Side Kick

image via

Last night, I felt something inside me change forever.

It was the final night of my dreadful Public Speaking class...

If you've been around the last five weeks, you might have heard me bitching and complaining about it over and over on the blog, Facebook, Twitter... you name it. I've had to get up in front of people and give six different speeches this term, each time wanting to run away and hide in a corner.

I've always thought of myself as a listener, someone who stands aside and lets the extroverts chatter in all their social glory. All my life I've been attracted to people like this, in awe of their bright light.

My best friend growing up was always the center of attention with her contagious laughter and humor, and I was always by her side, sometimes offering my own funny banter, but mostly finding comfort laughing at her hilarity with everyone else.

My husband is a natural talker, storyteller, and charmer... he can strike up a conversation with anyone in the room. Sometimes when we are with friends I'll bring up a funny story, but I make him tell it because I believe he's better at it.

Even my best friend today is very well spoken and comfortable with her own voice, especially in work situations. She can always command that attention with poise and confidence.

I think I have subconsciously attached myself to people who are comfortable leading so I don't have to be put in the spotlight... even though I secretly want to be. Sometimes when I branch out and try to speak my mind, I sense myself getting awkward, rambling, and struggling to make my point. I'm always relying on that other person to take the mic from me. Even in work situations, I've been the assistant, the side kick, the type of personality that compliments the star of the show.

Last night, I sat down with my instructor to go over my grade and I let her know how difficult this class has been for me... that I've had to force myself to show up because I worry so much about my speaking skills.

Her response took me by surprise... she looked at me and said I had a real future in public speaking. She could see me running a company and people listening to what I have to say. She said I am very natural, relatable, that I know exactly what I'm talking about, and that no one would want to mess with me.

I was taken back by her comments... she never once thought I was nervous the entire term!

I thought the red hives all over my neck and chest gave it away, but she didn't notice.

I thought maybe my shaking hands would have showed some weakness, but she didn't notice that either.

I thought, I thought, I thought...

I've known this all along, but all of these negative thoughts were just in my head. In the end, I pushed past my fear, my anxiety, my doubt, and most importantly, I actually got through to people.

I talked about my dreams, my goals, my passion for design and blogging... I was able to express who I was clearly. I learned how to speak "off script" and let my mind work out the words without it being rehearsed. I had to learn to trust myself that I could do it, and I did it.

I freakin' did it, and walked away with an A minus!

Bam ;)

This is what I went to school for... not to just learn design theory and the programs, but to grow as my own person and completely own it.

I walked to my car that night feeling as if I'd reached the top of a mountain... I was looking down at all of the scary rocks and boulders, and realized just how far I've come.

Then I looked up at the stars; bright, shiny, and full of wonder.

For that moment... I was one of them.


  1. I am new to your blog! This is such a great post. I can totally relate and was in a pretty similar situation a couple of years ago.... kudos to you that you managed to go through the whole term and that you did so well :)


  2. Oh, friend - I LOVE this post! It's amazing how we feel about something & how differently it can be perceived by someone else. Congrats on that awesome grade - you totally deserve it!

  3. I love this post, Kristen! Congratulations on the grade, but more importantly, on conquering that class and growing personally!


  4. You are AWESOME! Congrats on the grade and for coming off not nervous one bit! Obviously I've never "met" you but I'd agree that when you speak people will listen. You ARE relatable and knowledgeable about what you're saying.

  5. Congrats - I have to speak publicly as part of my work, sometimes in front of about 100 people and it petrifies me! I just try to tell myself that people dont notice how nervous you are (as your tutor proved) and that if you're knowledgable about the topic your discussing, they'll be glad to learn something.

  6. Kristen,

    this is a wonderful post. Not only are you a speaker, you're a writer. You're amazing and I'm so happy you're finished with that class. thank you for sharing what's on your heart in this. It's beautiful.

  7. Congrats on your grade! I know I wouldn't do that good in public speaking, I got to take french instead.
    Maybe I need to start surrounding myself with friends that are a lot more outgoing as me!

  8. That was an amazing and sweet post. Congratulations on finding your voice, although we knew you had a strong one all along. Reading your blog is a joy. You are a gift to the community, Kristen!


  9. Awesome!!! you did it girl!!

  10. This post is awesome!!! That is so great :) having that feeling of growth and accomplishment is SOOO fulfilling! :) I'm glad you overcame your fear and you realized the negative thinking was what was holding you back! It's all about confidence and positivity! Congrats on your A!!

  11. You are amazing, chica! So glad you walked away with a positive experience. You are a gemini after all ;)

  12. What a beautiful moving post. TO be amongst the stars you surely were. Congratulations :)

  13. This is an amazing post! I love hearing stories like this!

  14. Well congratulations! It's always that way though, isn't it? The way we perceive ourselves is never the way others see us. We can be our own worst enemies sometimes.

    My husband and I are just like you. Not into speaking publicly and feel we are fumbling like crazy when we have to but then to our surprise, people loved us! My husband is a published chemist and had to speak at a seminar recently with many other speakers. He thought he bombed it but weeks later people were calling his office asking for a transcript of his speech because they felt he was the best, most entertaining speaker they saw that day! Go figure ;)

  15. You go girl!! I'm proud of you and so excited for you. This post made me smile so big!!

  16. AN A!!!! AN A!!!!!! Oh Kristen, I am so proud of you!! Way to kick ass girl. Someday I'm going to give you a real life big hug! <3

  17. Such an awesome post!
    I'm so proud of YOU!

    Looks at you - with that big shiny future in front of you :)
    You're going places, girl!

    (I thought I was terrible at public speaking but turns out that was the only A+ I ever got in college...!)


  18. I'm so happy for you!

    I got a C in speech class in college even though I got an A on every single speech and the final. I had a lame teacher...

    PS. My nose twitches when I have to speak in public and it drives me crazy!

  19. Good for you!!

    I hate public speaking. I hated giving presentations all throughout school. I would freak out and feel like I was going to pass out.

    I"m glad you were able to overcome your fear :)

    <3 Jamie

  20. What a great blog today sweet daughter of mine...that line about the stars brought tears tomy eyes and gave me goosebumps. What you think you might struggle with outloud, you spin circles around us all with your writing...love you and you go girl!!!

  21. Congratulations on that grade! As a fellow introvert, I know full well the feeling of taking the back seat in the spotlight. I will always be the one to listen rather than tell the story and most of the time I'm perfectly fine with them. Some people are just better at being natural talkers. But that doesn't mean us introverts don't have voices. And I think that when we're prepared with something to say, we can say it really well even if in our minds they don't always seem that way. Haha I found this quote on tumblr for introverts. I figured I'd share it with you:

    “I loathe when people think that I’m shy rather than introverted. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being shy, I’m just not, and they are two separate things. People cajoling me into social situations try to assure me that I ‘don’t have to talk to everyone’ or that ‘everyone will love me.’
    Bitch, of course they will like me. I am delightful. I just find prolonged social interactions to be extremely exhausting." It's from an article on xojane:


    So yeah, congratulations, girly! It's definitely a grade well deserved! :D

  22. I love those moments!

    followme@ www.studentswife.com

  23. power to you girl! i despise public speaking. Even in front of a small group. those piercing eyes....ugh. heebie jeebies.

  24. I'm so proud of you! I loved this post, you are a beautiful writer! I'm glad you feel like a star! Love you!

    Don't want you to move... :)

  25. Hip hip hoorayyyyyy! That is so awesome. You rocked it and totally overcame your fear. Congrats!!!

  26. Congrats! I'm so happy for you because I can relate. I also am going for a graphic design/marketing career and I was soo nervous when I took my public speaking class. And I ended up with an A too! I think it is such a great achievement, congrats girl!

  27. I can see why you chose this as your favorite post. I realize it's been a few months now, but congratulations, not only on the grade but this amazing discovery!


Hey friends! Thank you for taking time out of your day to keep up with my ramblings :) Although I read every single comment I'm not always able to reply, so if you have any specific questions please feel free to send me an email. Thanks and have a lovely day! xo