Recently, I used a magic wand in a speaking presentation. It happens to be one of my favorite props for a number of reasons. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if all we needed to do was raise our magic wand and poof— all our fears and challenges in life would just go away? In just one wave of a wand, you could have your perfect carefree life, devoid of all the distress and challenges. Many women I come across think that it’s just that easy.
When I was in grade school, I was deathly afraid of speaking in front of the class, which I’m sure is very hard to believe. However, this confession is true. In fact, my fear was so real that I would actually be in terror from the day I was assigned the date of my presentation to the day I finally presented. On a regular basis, I would work myself up into such a panic that I would get genuinely sick on my appointed day to speak. My fear was all encompassing.
Now, I’m not sure from where this fear originated. I don’t recollect any traumatic experiences during a class presentation, I just remember being so incredibly scared that I couldn’t even function. Throughout Junior High and High School, this same fear didn’t leave me. The thought of standing in front of everyone was just horrifying to me. In each speaking experience, I went through the same dreaded feelings and the same apprehension beforehand.
When I went away to college, I made a decision. I wasn’t going to live my life hiding in fear any longer. My mother had always taught me to face confrontation and problems head-on and that’s exactly what I intended to do. You know why? Because the feeling I had when backing down to my fear was worst than the actual fear. The feelings I experienced while giving in to this challenge was hurting my self-esteem. I decided that taking a speech class was the best way to tackle the issue.
Something funny happened on the way to confronting my fear: I realized that I was a pretty good speaker. Sure, the first week was dicey, but as time went on, I just got better and better. Each week, I gained a little more confidence and assurance in my presentation skills. By the end of the class, I was actually enjoying myself. My fear had vanished and as unbelievable as it sounds, there was excitement and enjoyment in its place.
Now, back to the magic wand. I’m sorry to say that there’s no quick fix to overcoming your fears. There’s no short cut to gaining courage and confidence in life. I talk to plenty of women that want to believe they can put a band-aid on the problem and call it a day. The truth is that your courage, confidence or “inner sass” grows with life experiences. It strengthens when you confront your demons and refuse to back down regardless of how anxious, uncomfortable and miserable you become during the process.
I don’t know what’s on your list of fears but I do know one thing for sure— not confronting your fear slowly chips away at your confidence and self-worth. You might not be conscious of this fact but it’s true.
My advice to you is to throw away the magic wand and do the hard work. Whatever you fear is, it’s probably way past its expiration date.