Delimit My Life

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing" ~ Hellen Keller

Day 18 Glossophobia

Growing up, I was a shy child always running behind my parents’ legs. It was practically out of a movie, typical embarrassed child. As I grew up though I stayed pretty shy, I only ever talked with my close few friends. With them I talked a lot and was loud but only because I knew them and trusted them. I loathed talking in front of the class or even just reading aloud. I would always look ahead so that I could practice what I had to read. I would miss what everyone was saying because I was panicking inside. I could feel my heart thumping inside my head and my hands going cold. I absolutely hated the feeling because it made me feel weak. Worst of all, it made me believe that I was never going to be a good public speaker!

Although even back then, I understood that I wanted to conquer my fears. I decided to take a speech class in middle school to confront my fear. However, every time I would give a speech I was scared, voice cracking and legs shaking. I saw the other kids who seemed to do it so effortlessly yet I felt paralyzed with anxiety. Sadly, I decided to not try again the next year. The fear continued on into my high school years and I never pushed myself. I remained fearful of public speaking and I always got serious anxiety if I had to. I just pathetically coasted through never challenging myself to get better.

Then college happened and I decided to change myself for the better. Public speaking was just one place where I wanted to improve. I took a presentation class where I gave numerous talks in front of my classes but I remained nervous beforehand. However, my presentation skills did improve and I learned how to calm my body’s fight-or-flight reaction while presenting. Later on, I joined the undergraduate research program at my college because I decided I wanted to get a PhD. I understood that this would require writing and public speaking, two of my greatest fears, but I looked forward to the challenge. I learned what made a great presentation and how to give a powerful presentation. The class repeatedly made me speak in class, voice my opinion, and writing all the time. Through the process, I slowly found my inner voice. I was still nervous before any public speaking but I learned to trust myself.

I continued pushing myself to become a better speaker, always expanding my comfort zone. This last summer my first research paper was accepted into a workshop at the prestigious AAAI conference. Being lead author on the paper, I gave a ten minute presentation in front of PhD’s and graduate students. The whole experience was terribly frighting but wonderful! I grew more than I can ever imagine, and I felt so powerful after giving my presentation. I realized that even though my fear will probably never go away I have a choice in letting it control me. I am stronger than my fear and I will continue to find harder situations in order to become better.

3. Glossophobia, I have a fear of public speaking.

Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


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