“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery” -Dauntless Manifesto
WELL. I just killed a spider.
I am/used to be terrified of spiders. So when one came into the house yesterday, I was hesitant. I would capture them and take them outside, but if I try they… move.
I feel ya, Ron.
I always feel guilty taking the life of a spider. And in such a cruel way. Am I going crazy? Does anyone else feel that way too?
Speaking about bravery, I am going to introduce you to my history of: public speaking.
Many of us struggle with public speaking, with talking to several people at once, where (at least in a speech) there full attention should be on you. For many class projects, I had to stand and give presentations. As a fourth graders, we made slideshows and showcased what we learned about our state. And I would be all shaky and I would read directly from the note cards in my hand. When we did speeches in in fifth grade, we practiced and went over persuasive techniques, over structure, over appeal. The first speech, I told myself, was a disaster. I read from my notes. I think no one understood me. And my topic was horrible, and lacked evidence.
When interpretive speeches came around later, I was determined to do better.
So I chose to interpret an excerpt of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. I was very confident about my interpretation, and had reviewed it with my teacher. I included the history as evidence, and I explained the metaphors. I practiced every night, going over hand gestures, expression, position. I chose out my outfit the night before.
When it was finally my turn of the meeting, I walked up to the front of the room, fairly confident. I even pushed the table with the speaking podium back so I would have room to walk. I knew what I was going to say. In fact, I had memorized my whole speech. Well, not the conclusion so much.
I started. My gained more confidence as I kept talking, and I understood what I was saying. I spoke loud, even though my knees trembled. Then they stopped. I spoke of the 1960’s. Of another speech of Kennedy’s, when he announced the project to land a man on the moon. Of innovation. And I was on a roll.
Then I reached my conclusion. I began, “In conclusion, Kennedy asked for the contributions of all the citizens of the country and the world to…”
And I froze.
Racking my brains for the rest of the paragraph, I was also panicking. It had to do with building a better country, and… addressing the world? What words did I use?
Finally, feeling defeated, I decided to go back to the podium, look at my speech, and use it to finish.
The room clapped. But even with the formal enthusiasm, I felt defeated. Why? Why, right when I was almost done?
What I love about mistakes is that we learn from them. I know you probably heard that before but it is true. From then on, I practiced every presentation, and now, I feel like fear for something that simple is a thing of the past.
Just a few months ago, I was preparing for a new interpretive speech, this time on a quote. I didn’t memorize that one, but knew it extremely well, so as I could improvise words but have the same idea. I walked again, and looked at the room in general, and looked at some in the eye. I didn’t use the microphone because I wanted to use my hands and speak loud. It was not the best, I was still nervous, but not so much.
And, I didn’t do so bad. I felt pretty good.
Now, in not much time, I will give a persuasive speech. I am preparing as much as I can, beginning to feel comfortable with the words I speak.
Fears, even the most basic ones, can be faced, and what we learn through them can be used to our advantage. Speaking is something that we carry through our whole life. We all can go from afraid to these guys:
I know that everything starts out scary. It has always been that way, and the only way people avoid it is to be born with that talent. I was not raised to speak over others. My classes never taught me proper techniques. But eventually you come to a point where you learn not only public speaking, but a necessity to the rest of your life.
If anyone would like tips, or just want to share their own story of bravery, (mine being very basic) just leave me a note in the comments.
Bravery is an art, and art is bravery. Either way, you discover something new.