I am not a very strong public speaker.
Let me rephrase that.
The thought of standing in front of a group of people and speaking makes my gut churn. I fear saying something stupid and embarrassing myself.
So when my son’s teacher asked me to talk to his class about blogging, I died just a little inside and then agreed. You can imagine how my anxiety level rose when, a few days later, he pushed back the talk time by 30 minutes – so I’d be talking right after they spent 45 minutes in the gym on bouncy castles (as a reading reward). He assured me that he would calm them down for me. (Right.)
I died just a little bit more.
I prepared a Keynote presentation to provide some direction and tossed a bag of miniature peanut butter cups in my bag, just in case I needed to lob them out as rewards for participation. (I’m not stupid. These are 4th graders.)
I’m glad I didn’t bring my water bottle inside with me when he introduced me as an “expert” on blogging and a really great writer, as the “expert” status granted would have had me choking. The only things I’m an expert at is avoiding the gym and eating chocolate, self-deprecation and staying up too late.
Then he told everyone to take out their writing notebooks, as he wanted them to take notes. I nearly peed myself. Did I have anything noteworthy in my talk?
I took a deep breath, released it slowly, and dove in – asking the class “what is blogging?”
Hands shot up, eager to participate.
It was awesome.
It was awesome because the class genuinely was curious and interested, surprising me with their level of interaction, and I soon relaxed and enjoyed it (unexpected, as I assumed I’d just survive it.) In the end, the Powerpoint (note to self – convert Mac formatted files to windows-comparable ones before presenting) served as a great outline and the conversation that followed developed organically.
It was fun because as we were discussing an idea, their teacher quickly Googled the news clip in question and played it on the white board so everyone was on the same page. (In discussing possible writing topics we touched on current events; after the Richard Sherman “I am the greatest cornerback” interview a few weeks ago, there was a huge “he’s a terrible role model” backlash. But no where had I seen one kid say boo or yay about whether Sherman would be considered a good role model for them BY them, and I have been curious to see how kids would respond. I don’t think we as adults often enough take the time to ask kids what they think about topics that involve them.)
In the end, many in this group of fledgling writers were amped up about the idea of blogging, showing me all the notes they had taken. One of the girls mentioned that her aunt runs a local magazine – did I think her aunt might be interested if she contributed, offering a kid’s perspective? (I did, and offered a few suggestions as to how to submit something to her, so that her aunt knew she was serious about it.)
Despite the slightly awkward look on the face of my son as someone commented at the end “Wait, dude – that your MOM?” (and hoping I hadn’t embarrassed him terribly) I bopped out of there with a confidence I hadn’t felt in a long time. A really, really long time.
I had not only survived but I enjoyed it, too. Imagine that!
I’ll be honest with you: motherhood is a job for which there is minimal training and preparation, one in which just as you think you’ve gotten a handle on things everything changes, and it isn’t one that necessarily leaves you with a feeling of confidence much of the time. It had been a long time since I really felt I could talk confidently about something, and it felt awesome.
Did I mention I felt awesome? I had done it. And those peanut-butter cups? In MY belly, as I didn’t need to throw them out as bribery/encouragement.
I’d conquered one of my biggest fears. I was walking on air, and I felt like I could do ANYTHING!
Well, except maybe mountain climb. Or bungee jump. Or sky dive.
I’m terrified of heights. (And why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good plane, anyway?)
But I’m sure you know what I mean, don’t you?