Sweaty hands, a heartbeat so loud it muffles the words that float in the air and make it hard for me to breathe. Every presentation I was brutally forced to withstand results in me blacking out and performing with absolutely no recollection of what I said. The five minutes that feel like hours under the influence of the 30 eyes of a classroom hearing your every word, noticing your every stutter, watching your shaky hands while you fidget and remind yourself it's "unprofessional" to move around and sway so much is literally my worst nightmare.
Public speaking is one of my worst fears but a lot of people who have not seen me attempt to speak in front of a crowd refuse to believe it because of the fact that I am outgoing.
I am here to say that you can be outgoing and still be afraid of public speaking.
I was always the kid that got moved seats, regardless of where I sat because I loved sparking conversation with absolutely anybody and everybody. Yet my voice quivers at the thought of presenting in front of a room.
There's a stereotype that only introverts, shy and quiet people get nervous at the thought of public speaking, but I am here to say that outgoing, extroverted people do too.
There have been more times than I can count where I've had a vocal opinion on something in a lecture hall or classroom but was too afraid to say it in fear of sounding stupid or choking on my own voice due to nervousness.
Continuously throughout the semester, I have realized the regret of not participating and hearing the professor say my exact thoughts was more excruciating than raising my hand and possibly being wrong but my anxiety forces my hand to never leave the comfort of my lap.
The worst part of public speaking anxiety is the way it makes your sympathetic system flare. My mind wants me to calm down, but my heartbeat and adrenaline often make it difficult to match my mindset. By making the conscious effort to try and volunteer more, it has made me realize that my thoughts and body have a very hard time cooperating.
I will excitedly script an answer to a discussion and prep myself to raise my hand in my head, but my heart rate turns to drums that blare in my ears and my palms sweat and I forget my initial ideas. By the time, I rack up the courage to add input into the conversation of a discussion the class has already taken a new path and it all becomes a vicious cycle where I am ten steps behind because I am too busy trying to calm myself down to participate and losing the right time to participate by overthinking and over-stressing.
I remind myself that I put too much thought into all of this and remind myself that it is not really that deep, but continue to have an irrational fear of people turning around to put a face to the shaky voice that unconfidently mumbles the end each sentence with "I don't know" while I stumble for words.
I try to remind myself that I would not mind having a single one on one conversation with anybody in the room, but when it's everybody all at once staring at me to hear what I have to say, my voice box literally goes low battery and malfunctions, causing me to shake and stutter and mispronounce words.
Every essay I've ever had to read out loud in school left sweat marks on the podium from clutching it so hard, and left me running to my seat for security-begging for invisibility and my friends leaning over to tell me it was fine, "but why were you shaking so much?"
To which I would reply by lifting my hand to arm level to show them that I was still in shock and shaking… Later in the day I would laugh at myself at the thought of me literally trembling in fear because I had to read a Shakespeare analysis. It's really not that deep in actuality but the phobia truly makes you believe that it is.
I am an extremely outgoing person who is absolutely terrified of public speaking and this year I am working my hardest to combat it and for anyone else struggling with it, I want you to remind us both that public speaking is a skill, it is not something everyone is born with. It is reached through practice, positivity, and awareness.
"It's estimated that as much as 75% of the population struggles with a fear of public speaking to a certain degree. That means some 238 million people feel nervous about talking to others," so it's true that we are not alone.
According to Psychology Today,
"While some people experience a debilitating form of glossophobia, even a mild form can have devastating effects. Fear of public speaking can prevent you from taking risks to share your ideas, to speak about your work, and to present your solutions to problems that affect many people — and as a result, it can affect how much you grow personally and professionally, and how much impact you can have."
Hearing that makes me realize how much of an obstruction this phobia has had on my own growth and so many others and I refuse to allow it to have any more power in my life. I think I am just going to start answering questions in vibrato. I am so sick of glossophobia hindering so much of my life and education.