Look Forward To The Nervousness
An Unexpected Ally
Sometimes I have to speak in front of large crowds. Normally this entails a presentation backed up with a good amount of research.
The research part helps the fluidity of the talk. The more I know, the less awkward, the better the flow, the more the crowd can stay engaged with the message.
I’ve done this for years now. Given my “experience” one would assume that I would’ve developed a tolerance for the anxiety that normally comes with public speaking.
But that’s just not true.
I still get as nervous as I did during my high school speech class. The “butterflies in the stomach” that people talk about are more like a swarm of killer bees stinging my insides.
My mouth usually dries up like a desert ravine somewhere within the first five minutes of the talk. Cobweb-like froth builds up at the corners. And all of my “S’s” stick to the roof of my mouth.
What starts off as mild jitters finds a way to seep through and manifest physically.
It’s the most humiliating feeling knowing that the words you’re speaking are only vapors floating off into the void because all the audience sees is your dried-up, frothy mouth, your awkward attempts at playing it off, and your shaky-handed swigs of water.
Fortunately, through the years my attitude towards my nerves has changed, pretty dramatically I might add.
Nerves prove we’re still alive and kicking. That our soul is engaged. That life isn’t frozen, but expanding at a pace we thought impossible.
At the same time, these nerves dock us to the present. Stealing away our attention from the strange future and the merciless past.
Finally, we’ve landed.
In the midst of the heart pounding and the palm sweating and the mouth drying and the double vision and the slurred words, we somehow…breath again.
“So this is what NOW looks like?”
Look, if your speaking in front of a group or on the verge of making a life altering financial decision or planning on having a dreadful conversation with a close friend or organizing a highly publicized event or on your way to an interview that could reboot your life, look forward to the nerves.
Ratchet up your attitude towards them.
Do that gut-wrenching thing.
Once you’ve completed it, plan something else that’s equally grueling.
Do as much of the scary things in life (by scary I mean those actions we put off despite knowing they’ll lead to a better all-around you) as possible. Then, when your done, start a fresh round of scary things.
Do this again and again. Every day, for as long as blood courses through your veins.
Wield those nerves like a blacksmith’s hammer and shape your life into its originally intended form.