2019 is proving to be a year of many changes, so in what-used-to-unusual fashion, I decided to try something outside my comfort zone.
I think it might be my age, or planets, or lack of running but I am a lot more adventurous in my fifties. I seem to have let go of my underlying chronic anxiety. The fear has feared off. So to do an ‘internal’ test, I said ‘YES’ to doing a public talk at Montecasino. The Japanese format of PechaKucha which gives me 20 seconds using 20 slides and a grand total of 6minutes and 40 seconds to impress an unfamiliar audience.
I seem to be saying ‘Yes’ to a lot of things on impulse but I am enjoying the flow it is bringing to my life. I had a concept for my talk but I struggled to get the flow of the middle bit. Knowing that I can talk for waaay longer than the allotted time, and I can speak really quickly just to confuse non-accent-familiar folks, I deliberately put in less words than necessary. This was to force my pause and roll my vowels ( my mouth just sounded that last bit out).
So eventually the day arrives and I am excited but oddly non-plussed about my clumsiness with the middle bit of speech. We are encouraged to have a rehearsal beforehand to test the system and get familiar, which I always like. So I line up after two delightful polished, speakers who swan through their 6 minutes. My turn on mic, gets me into a very unusual knot. My voice trembles, my brain freezes (sans ice cream) and I swear out loud on mic. The second attempt, I walk away from the third slide, stifling a gallop to my car and a drive to the coast.
I pace up and down the casino complex passages mouthing to myself in 6 layers of crazy, yet the nerves are still silent. I have become extremely good at self scanning, so I wonder if I have just pushed myself so far over into complete numbness. But I realise I am still excited and curious to see what I do in front of an audience. Okay, one part of me could still hear my car call me away, but I ignored it.
The evening starts and I sit with the other speakers at the back and I notice the most experienced one of us all, fidget a bit. He’s sitting beside me, so of course I ask if he’s nervous. He admits that there is a touch of nerves and I can literally feel my shoulders drop with relief. I am still internally trying to locate my speech in my mind, but it kept me in suspense.
My turn comes very quickly. As I approach my position behind the mic, I feel my arms punch down and I hear a strange voice say ‘let’s do this’. I take a deep breath and look out at the large crowd of expectant eyes. I don’t hear my voice quiver, and I see people nodding their heads, laughing when I intended. I can’t really remember everything I said, perhaps I had a ‘walk-in’ lol. The slides fly by, my mouth keeps moving… and I must be making sense because I still see heads nod.
The last slide appears and I realise that I made it. Relieved but loving the human eyes on the chairs, I realise that I respond well to an audience. I like the feedback, much like the Comrades marathon, people naturally seem to want others to succeed. I feed off that. So this year I am not running the 87km and I doubt a 6 minute chit chat can compare to the magnitude of the race from city to city, but I did have a great experience and I learned something new about myself. I didn’t back down from the possibility of disaster and I dove right in… just to see how I would handle it.
Isn’t life such an awesome adventure?