I spent most of Saturday afternoon at BritMums Live DREADING having to get up and read a post out at the Blogger’s Keynote.
I knew this would happen. I do not get nervous walking into a room full of strangers and making conversation with the person standing next to me. I hardly ever fret about what I am going to wear. I can arrange to meet a friend in a pub and be quite happy waiting at the bar by myself with a glass of Prosecco. I am also happy to eat in a restaurant alone. Don’t bat an eyelid, in fact.
But, ask me to stand up on a stage and speak to a room full of strangers and my stomach will turn somersaults. My hands will feel clammy and I will literally tie myself up in knots worrying about it until it is all over. I am not a natural performer and I feel very self-conscious when all eyes are on me.
Then I remembered that was how I had felt right before I hit publish on the post that I would be reading. It is how I felt moments before my first date with my husband, every time I have had to make a presentation at work, and whenever I have been called upon to make an impromptu toast at a friend’s birthday.
Speaking out loud makes me nervous. This is probably one of the reasons why I enjoy blogging so much.
But I cannot hide behind a laptop screen forever, so last year I made the decision to stop letting fear make my decisions for me. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and raise my game.
So even though I was terrified at the thought of public speaking; especially about such an emotional, intensely personal experience, I said I’d do it. I knew if I could just get through it, I would feel amazing afterwards.
I started off shaky. My throat felt dry and my voice cracked. I looked around the room and honestly, I couldn’t see a blooming thing, so I just took a deep breath and went for it the way I had been rehearsing all week. After a few paragraphs I relaxed, took my time, and felt the nerves start to slip away.
Before I knew it, it was over. I thought I’d feel relieved, but I surprised myself with how calm I felt.
I was not prepared for the overwhelming response I got from people. Nor for the emotion in the room. The people on their feet. It took my breath away.
As soon as I stepped off the stage, I burst into tears and into the arms of my lovely friends HPMcQ and Franglaise Mummy.
Thank you to everyone who tweeted, hugged me, commented on the post and shared their own story with me. You made every chewed nail, nervous loo break, wave of nausea and sweaty palm worthwhile.
And, then some.