Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Know Your Enemy

"I decided to pass, Mom.", my boy said to me this morning, during our morning pre-get-out-of-bed period, before the little sister got up to create some drama for the day.

He had come home the other day mentioning that he was picked by his teacher to talk about what integrity was, and to do this with his friend Sally in front of his school. I was pumped for him, what mother wouldn't be? I told him he should be proud of the fact that his teacher selected him, and that she obviously thought he could perform well.

He was given a couple days to think about it, and I had tried to instill some confidence in him that he could do it. I guess I failed. He'd let the butterflies get the better of him and gave the task to another friend.

"Oh. When is the assembly?"

"It's later today in 5th period. I felt too nervous, though, and Mrs. Smith said it was okay."

"Well, I think you could have done it, you're so good at speaking, and you're a natural."

"But Mom, this would have been in front of the WHOLE SCHOOL. I could have handled it if it was just primary. But I would have had to say it in front of the primary, intermediate AND SENIORS! Mrs. Smith said it was fine; she said she was so nervous when she first started as a teacher she could barely face her first day in class. So I feel okay about it."

I suppose speaking in front of over 800 people would be intimidating. Even if he imagined they were all in their underwear. That made him laugh. How could he concentrate on his speech about integrity if he pictured everyone in their skivvies?

I had resisted the urge to do the mom pressure tactic, to push him to "seize the opportunity to shine."Something that is just inbred, I suppose. I remember being under the gun myself when I was just a little older than my boy, preparing my first speech with cue cards. The old tape recorder was turned on, and I was recorded by my mom, and my dad, as they coached me to remember each and every word, to speak with expression and enthusiasm. They knew I could do it too, but it doesn't mean that I wasn't shitting nickels the whole time I was performing.

But my boy's not comfortable with it this time. So I am fine with it.

It's not an earth-shattering opportunity. He would have shone like the beacon that he is. I'll just remain quietly proud of him. He'll gain more confidence. There will be other moments.


Public speaking. It's probably a number one fear on most every list out there. Don't know what it is about that.

Why do we fear this? Why do we let our insecurities get the better of us? I'm probably the most guilty of that myself.

My own worst enemy.

Call it analysis paralysis. Afraid of failure.

So I did something a little earlier this year.

Y'all know that I'm going to BlogHer. Well, they have this thing called a community keynote. They'll choose from several hundreds of submissions and offer the chance to some bloggers to share their favourite posts. In front of, what, over 1,000 people?

I told my boy that I had made a couple of submissions. (Did not share that I was shitting nickels while I hit "send").

And that if Mommy were really, really lucky, she might even get chosen (super long shot, I know, but I was trying to make a lesson out of this). To be asked to speak in front of 1,000 people. Actually, to have ASKED to speak in front of 1,000, of my own volition.

And that if it happened, I would do it. I would also probably cry.

He was awestruck. And he's confident that I'll be picked (he's so sweet that way).

I don't know about that.

But there's a part of me that's hoping that I just might feel the need to wear special skivvies in six weeks' time.

You know, to catch those nickels.


(Bought the CD. Can you say "Rock Opera". LOVE it.)


donna said...

First, I FORGOT you are going to BlogHer! I get to meet you! I get to meet you!

OK, got that out of my system.

Hopefully when he sees that someone else did it and didn't explode or die of embarrassment, he might wish he had done it. Then next time he has such an opportunity, he'll remember this situation and take the chance.

But what an honor to be asked. You have one amazing son.

Kori said...

Thanks for the reminder of all I am NOT getting to do AGAIN this year...oh, wait, this isn't about me. I think so far as public speaking goes (and it is terribly nerve wracking in any situation) is to not deny your fear but embrace it. Feel it, acknowledge it, and love it just a little for the fact htta it makes you human. THEN you imagine the underwear scene and breathe deep and kick.serious.ass. I hope you get picked.

Tara R. said...

Public speaking is definitely one of those things that the more you do it, the easier it gets. Good luck and I hope your submissions are selected, I would love to sit in the audience as moral support. It also helps to see some friendly faces in the crowd.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that gets me about speaking is the AV equipment. Other than that I actually like it. But I'm a freak that way.

Cid said...

I know I'm weird but I love speaking to groups, don't get asked often enough. Guess that says something. I wish I was going to Blogher:(

Unknown said...

WTG Karen, embrace those fears and I'm sure you will do fine when (not if) you get that opportunity and if not think of all the moula you'd get ;) If you have the material written down (and memorized) it's a snap to do public speaking. It's not as if you have to improvise in front of that crowd.

Mom101 said...

I wish you mucho luck with the community keynote. I had the honor of doing it last year and it was incredible. The second you step up on that stage, you forget it's a room of 1100 and it just feels like a room of friends. Everyone should get the chance to conquer that fear so easily, among such a sympathetic room.

Thanks so much for the lovely comment at my place. Glad to meet you too!

jmt said...

I think it's so interesting that there is a BlogHer convention or whatnot. I have to check out BlogHer....not even really sure what it is....??? But either way, I sincerely hope you get to read a post. That's why we blog, right? To share our thoughts? :) I can't believe I didn't wet my pants during freshman speech class in high school. Every time I was up there I started shaking.

petite gourmand said...

the thought of public speaking has me thinking more like quarters not just nickels...;

But you must be so proud of your little man- I think you handled the situation perfectly.
lots of support but no pressure.

good luck with the blogher thing
I'll be rooting for you back here at home hiding behind the curtain :)

Kamis Khlopchyk said...

Public speaking, for me, in front of 6 or 600 is like asking me jump out of an airplane with now parachute. I just panic and don't think and then say dumb things. I hate looking dumb.

So, I totally sympathize with him but also have realized that if I just get over myself and do it, it's never as bad as I think. And I have a whole pile of nickels at the end too :)

If you get picked, dammit, I am finding a way to get to Blogher! Wait. I better take that back, I think it's sold out! If you don't get picked, I will be shocked.

PS the shitting nickels experession is freaking hilarious!

louann said...

It comes with practice too. People who we think as naturals" at it may have had to deal with butterflies in their tummies a couple of times before feeling comfy about speaking in front of a lot of people.

Unknown said...

Awwww :) That was really endearing, actually! I'm sure when he is ready, he WILL shine in front of his captive audience :)

Oh, and I know I've told you this already, but I am soooooooooooooooooo upset I'm not going to be at BlogHer this year!!! *sigh* In all honesty, I KNOW I wouldn't have been able to spend even one day away from my not-so-newborn. Ask me in a few months though, and I'd probably be bookin' that plane ticket wayyyyyyyyy in advance! ;)

Catch up with you soon, okay? BTW, we were supposed to be in TO this weekend for the Preemie Picnic at High Park (c/o Mt. Sinai Hospital). Unfortunately, we can't get away for it :( So sad.

Really hope to see you soon, K.

Ed said...

For some reason, the speaking thing never got to me. Singing? Now that's a whole different story.


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