Ever heard of the word Glossophobia? You could be a victim of it without having a clue as to what it means.
So, what exactly is Glossophobia? It is the fear of public speaking and one of the most common phobias. Almost 75% of people suffer from speech anxiety.
While some people thrive on the limelight, I just wanted to hide in a quiet corner. I’ve overcome many ‘challenges’ in life, but public speaking continues to drive me insane. Most people never have the slightest clue as to what we go through.
When I say that I’d rather jump off a cliff than stand in front of a throng of fellow human beings and give a presentation or speech, people seem to think I’m being too melodramatic.
Let me be honest. I detest people. Now, don’t take it the wrong way; I like human beings. I prefer to deal with them, one at a time. When people gather in throngs, they appear to lose their humanity, and they start resembling this many-headed, ferocious monster called a crowd.
Seems too melodramatic for you? Let me explain how I feel when I’m trying to address a gathering.
When I’m standing on a stage, I feel alone. Exposed. Gazing at the multitude of faces looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to spell out something brilliant makes my palms start to sweat. My mouth feels dry as though it is full of sand.
I could hear a buzzing in my ears. My heart is racing. Just as I’m about to speak, and open my mouth, words don’t come out making me realize my worst fear. My mind reaches a perpetual state of emptiness, going completely blank.
Sounds horrible, right? Have you ever experienced this? Does your voice shake or the hand which you are holding your notes start shivering so much that even audience could see it? Have you ever been at a loss for words?
Despite practicing for weeks, knowing the script by heart, having everything memorized, can’t be more excited to break a leg, did your voice start to tremble, revealing your anxiety for all to see?
The cause varies from person to person. It could be anything like the nerves of being the center of attention, the concern of making a mistake, or doing something embarrassing, etc. The feelings of dread and panic induced by stage fright take a huge toll on our self-esteem causing us to leave everything and run away to a faraway country and never return.
After one failed attempt, I never even gave another try dreading the feeling of helplessness. I preferred to suffer in silence than try exposing it to a friend or family member. I felt embarrassed to ask for help. I thought I would be shunned.
I love writing, I could write an article in a matter of hours, but the thought of speaking in front of others, brings forth an evil alter ego inside me, which manages to convince me every time that my performance would be downright lousy.
Whenever I try to write, I aspire to entertain my readers verbally by tapping into my reservoir of powerful vocabulary and compelling style. But, when I’m standing on the platform, my language reservoir becomes completely dry.
I started avoiding situations that would put me in the center of attention. I was happy to be invisible.
And, I successfully managed to elude those situations and remain backstage until this Saturday. The day until which the situation demanded me to step out of the shadows into the limelight.
“Out of the frying pan, into the fire.”
The thought of anchoring an event left me with a bad case of butterflies in my stomach. Until the last moment, I wanted to back out of the deal. But the confidence my colleagues and friends had on me, kept me going.
I stepped onto the podium. (Thank God it was not a full house!) The audience started looking right at me. The confident gaze of my colleagues was stressful enough. But at least I could tell my irrational anxiety that it is completely unreasonable.
My hands and knees were shaking. Sweat trickled down the back of my neck. My heart started to hammer against my rib-cage like a tiny bird, trying to escape its cage.
It was a lot harder to tell my anxiety to shut up when I had a lotta eyes zeroed in on me. But I managed to plaster a smile on my face and started to blabber through my well-written script.
For a few minutes, frustration and panic streamed through my nerves, but I managed to stand there to introduce the speaker. It was not perfect. But at least it was coherent.
After the stuttering start, I managed to pull myself together and calm my spirit. The rest of the program flew by like a breeze, dispelling my fear inducing a tad bit confidence within me.
I’m not gonna lie. A few times anxiety reared its head back at me, though I was not sure how to defeat it, at least I found a way to silence it.
No matter how many times the ruthless anxiety tries to “turn up the volume”, I know there is a way to tune it out, and I ignore it whenever I choose to. I always have the potential to “get better.”
Today, I understood that my stage fright is NOT the end of the world. At times, it seems like such a hassle to handle, but with a little determination and the support of my friends, I could overcome it. Today I know that I’m just a few instances away from conquering it and I’m not gonna quit until I do just that.
Never underestimate the seductive power of a little dose of self-confidence.
Will this confidence help me master my fears? No idea 🙂 That’s yet to be seen.. Until then, keep reading 😉