Stage Fright

I do not know exactly what is going on but I am not afraid to speak in front of a group any more. I used to be petrified. I am just about terminally shy. I mean I am shy enough that it is hard for me to even call friends up to ask them if they want to meet for coffee. Yes, it is that bad. From about junior high through college, I couldn’t even ask or answer questions from my seat, which was always as close to the back of the room as I could get. Giving a presentation to a room full of people was a fate worse than death.

It took me two whole years to work up my courage to sign up for the web development program at the local community college. I can still remember how scared I was to hit the submit button after I filled out the on-line admissions application. Pooh emailed me and said, “sit in the front row.” Say what? Sit in the front row? Pooh is my ultra-smart cousin and I doubt she has ever been afraid to speak up in class or anywhere else. But me? In the front row? Right where the teacher can see me? Not on your life!

I was terrified that first day of school and I was five minutes late and I didn’t exactly know where the classroom was and I was pretty darn disheveled by the time I got there. grok grok. You are ALWAYS disheveled. grok grok. I was thinking, “Kee-reist, what the heck am I doing?” There was one seat left in the front row and Pooh was haunting me so I took a deep breath and *willed* myself to sit in that seat!

School is all about participation nowadays and the teacher made it clear that people who did not speak up on their own would be asked random questions. You can’t just slide by with getting As on tests and papers any more. This was not going to be fun and it wasn’t easy that first semester. The teacher would ask questions and before I could even begin to get my thoughts organized, other people would just sing out all kinds of intelligent opinions. How the heck did they come up with that stuff so fast? I did not think I would ever be able to keep up.

Slowly and gradually, I began to force myself to speak up. The first time I had to do a presentation, I got full credit *only* because I covered everything in the assignment and *miraculously* did it within the specified time limit. If points had been awarded for elegance, I’d have earned about a negative 400.

I do not know exactly when the tipping point occurred but during the one class I took this semester, there were times when I just about had to clamp my hand over my mouth to shut myself up and give some of the quieter people in class a chance to talk. grok grok. Yeah, you need to shut up sometimes, you ugly old bag. grok grok. Presentations? Lemme at ’em! I can even be funny! I don’t know what happened. I guess I just do not care what people think about me any more. grokGROK!

Now, if I could just manage to extend this newfound self-confidence or whatever it is into making somebody want to pay me for something… :-/ grok grok. Yeah, then you can buy me more flies and things. grok.

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