Monday, March 14, 2011

Can I get this off my chest?

I was inspired reading Krystal's post last week on Give Me Back My Five Bucks about Toastmasters and how she's tackling her anxiety regarding public speaking. I really admire when people share their fears with others and take constructive steps to overcome them.

So here's mine (and this nothing to do with PF, so please bear with me):

At times, I get extremely nervous meeting new people. It can range from a medium level anxiety that is probably somewhat normal to feeling as if I'm so nervous I can't quite get my breath. And in those situations, I can say the wrong thing at the wrong time and make a bad impression. Talking to groups of people, where I am an unknown person - and especially if other people in the group all know each other - is a special kind of hell for me.

Here are some recent examples: During a panel job interview, I froze up and could not say a word. My mind was like trackless snow. The room started to spin and tilt and my heart was pounding so fast I felt like it would hammer right out of my chest.

I got the same bad feeling during an audition for the orchestra I'm in, but managed to stumble through. When I was invited out with other orchestra members for the first time, I didn't even go because I was so nervous.

It isn't always like this. Sometimes I am "on" and I am fine. I am capable of making a good impression, both in job interviews and social settings. But other times I crash and burn. In an interview setting, awkwardness is a death knell. And if you screw up in a social setting, many people won't give you a second chance. They may write you off as weird, self-absorbed, oddly quiet - whatever apparent deficit rears its head. Ideally we would be judged over time on who we show ourselves to be. This isn't an ideal world, though, and life isn't "fair." It's not something wrong with other people, or "the system." It's me. I must learn to adapt if I want to thrive and be happy.

I'm most comfortable when I'm arranging words in a way that makes sense - with the opportunity to edit and delete. This is probably why I work in communications, but on the written end exclusively. To stand up in front of 500 people and play the violin? I don't know how I ever did that. I have a picture from the newspaper when I am 15 and I am doing exactly that and I am smiling. I look relaxed.

I want to get to back there again. I want to be able to come off poised and confident in any situation, and with consistency. I'm making this an official goal of 2011. I think it's doable!

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