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!
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.