Overcoming My Fear of Public Speaking

2013,“Blocked”: A memoir

All images © NichakarnKuphirun.

The summertime of 2010 ended, and slowly, the luster of the sun began to diminish. The falling temperature accompanied bowling gales that shifted positions of the temperamental clouds, propelling them to form wild shapes, unite and clump around the dimmed sun, blocking its beams from shining through. Before the sun could be perceived again, the clouds were weighty, weeping tears of rain, and the moon and stars came along with the night sky, grabbing away all human attention. The sun was soon forgotten.

On September 8thof 2010, I came to Fay school. Unlike my old school, teachers here paid much closer attention to each individual student, expectations were considerably higher, and of course, participation had a more substantial impact to my comments and grades.

As a new student going from class to class, I was the sun in the night sky, and my friends were the moon and stars. I sat in the back corner of the class jotting down what was written on the board and listened quietly, while my friends, who were glittering with excitement, expectorated answers. Occasionally, I was called upon but with the lack of confidence in myself, my answer was not heard and I was forced to repeat the agony several times.

In the dorms, I was eclipsed by my shyness. I was seldom found in the common room or in my friend’s room socializing and having sleepovers. Gales of laughter that blew through the gleaming hallways, filling the dorm with glee was never to be heard from me. Despite the sophisticated indoor facilities and nature’s beauty outside, I remained hidden in my room, overwhelmed with anxiety and missing out on all the fun that the other girls were having.

Soon enough, winter came with the cold wind and numerous snowstorms, and along with them came an assignment that chilled me with paralyzing fear; speeches. When hearing about the contest in my composition class, I was terrified at the thought and could not visualize myself standing up there, facing my biggest fear. On the following day, the fear that surrounded me like fog combined with blinding stress; my homework was to come up with possible topics for my speech. I was imprisoned by panic, which restricted me from discovering the suitable topic that I was yearning for. Escalating, the anxiety I felt resembled the roaring storm clouds that quenched the scorching sun. I strived to find a topic that would not include me in it, because I knew in my heart that self-consciousness and fright would bury me.

For me, at the time, there was only one gap in the thick cloudy sky that allowed a ray of sun to peek through. I chose to give a speech on how we can make the school a better place; I did it knowing the topic was overdone and unoriginal. My finished product was below my usual standard when the cold sunless due date arrived. As my friends were twinkling with pride in their speeches, I sat in my seat praying with nervousness that I would deliver my speech the next day, but my wish was not granted, for my name was called.

The moment I stood in front of my classmates , who were sitting in a horseshoe formation, the same horrendous feeling of fear for public speaking revisited me once more. Their heavy dark stares accelerated my pulse and generated a burning sensation on my face as I started. A whirlwind of confusion followed as I was about to finish my second paragraph. I had no idea why they were confused, but at that point in time, there was not a fragment of hope left in me, for my fiery rays have been extinguished. When it had finally come to an end, the pain on my face and the soreness of my throat was assuaged. Walking back to my seat in the awkward silence, my eyes drifted on the papers of my classmates, aiming to see what they had written down about my speech, and how it was delivered. On their colorless paper, filled with murky lead marks, I found my name and the answer to their bewilderment. Beneath my name were comments like “too quiet, cannot hear” or the word “bad,” mirroring my failed attempt to shine through the daunting mist on a snowy day.

After the end of the everlasting winter and the snowstorms, spring approached. It brought with it wind that carried away some clouds, leaving small openings that allowed the bright beams of the sun to provide earth with warmth. It was a wind of change. Spring could not have been better without the fresh air, blooming flowers, chirping of birds, and buzzing of insects. The warm corroborating weather invigorated me and reminded me of the familiar atmosphere I longed for all winter. Enthusiasm reappeared and enlivened my face, and the girl who was once miserable and unnoticed emerged anew. On top my new attitude, I became closer to my roommate, who I hardly ever talk to, and became close friends with people I had not made connections with before. Traces of me became evident in the common room and in rooms other than my own, laughter, and screams and chatter that departed from my lips became known and uncovered, like the blazing sun after rain. This was just the beginning.

Once more, summer came by with heat that strained the chill, waking me up from the short spring term filled with joy and went by as speedy as the sky that you cannot witness twice. Before long, fall came again, but the colossal sun preserved its luminosity. School had begun and I came back to Fay, this time there was not much adaption to do, and there were little new rules. But yet, my beams were not yet bright enough for everyone to recognize. Teachers and friends were still committed to their memory of me being that shy girl, who was miles away from being spectacular compared to the sparkly stars that lit up the midnight sky. Showing them that I am no longer the same shy girl in the past was the only way to prove them wrong. It took me some time but I did it…for the most part.

I started participating on a daily basis in my physics and math class and continued in French, the class that I thought was challenging and impossible to master. As the semester progressed, I grew more comfortable and confident. Emitting answers, I expressed my opinions lucidly and proudly. Eventually, in those classes no clouds, rain, moon nor starts was able to overshadow me like it did before, my beams had shone brighter than the light they reflected.

However, having changed vastly in my three main subjects, it was not enough, the taciturn side of me was inevitably noticed in my ancient history and English classes. Friends who knew me in and outside of my English class would often remind me of that concealed half. Whenever they noticed the loud and forceful laugh or chatter departing from my mouth, they would ask, “Why aren’t you like this in English?” I would usually laugh as a response to shade the fact that I did not have an answer.

Today, the vigorous storm of questions and the repetitive comments have struck me hard enough for me to realize that it is my time to shine, and come out of the ebony mist. A vocab member of my English and History class, who is not afraid to express her opinions and ask questions was who I wanted to be identified as in remaining time at Fay. Currently, I have not fully achieved this goal yet, but I believe that I will be able to attain it by the end of this school year. Keeping in mind that no mater how many obstacles and fears that I have overcome there will always be one that await me in the future, just as the clouds which will always be present as long as there is still water left on earth, I will persevere to always be as radiant as the sun after a stormy day.

Originally published at viewkuph.blogspot.com.