When I Found Positivity. An Essay About A Speech.
“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.”
“What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud.
He opens his mouth, but the words won’t come out”
No, this is not a recital of Eminem’s hit song ‘Lose Yourself’.
However, it is about when I found positivity.
As I stood on stage, I scanned the courtyard through the window of the primary school hall to catch the tractor struggling on the gravel. I peered down at my feet to make sense of this enormous earthquake that worried no-one.
This actually happened.
No, not the earthquake or the tractor. If only! But about me, jolting my head in different directions mid-public speech, confused by a sudden internal shaking sensation and deafening noise besieging my brain.
Think of Freaky Friday when the earthquake struck during dinner. Only, I didn’t get to switch places with anyone. I was stuck on this stage, experiencing my first bout of public speaking fear in front of my classmates. After all my years of school speeches, I still can’t confirm why or how this fear occurred at the ripe old age of 11 or 12. Although, as a now approved anxious person and perfectionist, this may have been a warning.
Outside of school, I was a newly passionate dancer, having watched Step Up 2: The Streets and being in awe of how they can move and shake their bodies. No earthquake required. Like every dance movie I watched, I would research the actors and dancers in hopes of free online dance tutorials. Bear with me, this still relates to my debilitating fear of public speaking.
I watched a movie called Centre Stage: Turn It Up. When I came across the lead, Rachele Brooke Smith, I obtained a completely new and different direction on the road of life. She happens to be a motivational speaker and all-round positive person. I found a website with a range of programs and free resources, including a PDF by Rachele, relating to how to be positive, confident, and love your life. The website doesn’t exist anymore, but I promise I’m telling the truth.
Suddenly, I was engulfed by a new world that I had never known existed. I downloaded a bunch of PDFs and began putting in the work. Reading, answering questions to become self-aware, saying positive affirmations, and ultimately becoming aware of how humans do things, and what we should do instead.
Now, back to my crippling fear of speeches. Years had gone by from that moment on stage, and up until I watched that dance movie, there had been no cure for earthquake and tractor syndrome. As a now 14 year old, I had an upcoming speech, and I knew there was a life to be lived where tractors stay on farms and earthquakes stay on tectonic plates because I lived in neither of those places.
It was the day of the speech—the speech of all speeches. Actually, I can’t recall what subject it was for, but I assume it was the speech of all speeches. This was my time to exert more force than the natural earth. More power than a farm machine. This was do or die.
The morning began in my bedroom, stating positive affirmations with a side of eggs on toast.
I am confident. Yes.
I can do it. Yes.
The world is on my side.
I am bigger than my fears.
Crushed it. It was time to head to school for phase two, arguably the most life-changing tool that day. The brain believes what you tell it. I know all too well the self-deprecating trend that takes place on the day of a speech. You know, the one where you all turn up to school and try and outdo each other by explaining just how bad your speech is and how nervous you are.
“I haven’t even read over my speech!”
“I haven’t even finished writing mine!”
Ok Janet, thank you.
Today’s scheme was to avoid those comments like they were dodgeballs. My plan was to smile and nod. Maybe chuckle with the group to ensure my cover wasn’t blown.
Each time someone said something negative, internally, I would think of something positive about my speech. Your speech is sh*t? Well, mine is THE sh*t! You’re nervous about speaking to the whole class? Heck, this is the only time of year I get 2 minutes to shine!
Of course, I didn’t feel this way. But the brain is as dumb as it is smart. Keep telling yourself how great you are, and you will begin to believe it. You will gain the confidence you’ve had all along but never tapped into.
And come time to tackle your fear of public speaking, you will find that your nerves improve up to 80%. At least, this is my best guesstimate of how I performed that day in class. Not bad for a first try. In just one morning of dedicated, positive self-talk, my years of visible nervous symptoms almost entirely cleared up. I could hear and speak clearly, with my firmly planted feet on the ground. Imagine if we applied this to everything in life.
“You can do anything you set your mind too, man.” Eminem.
When I Found Positivity – An Essay About A Speech