My first speech at Toastmasters (I know, took me long enough!) is scheduled for Monday morning, bright and early. I’m serious when I say bright and early. The meeting itself starts at 6:45 am, which forces me to make good on my 5:15 am wake-up blabber. Nice to have the universe looking out for me. (I’m not sure that’s sarcasm. I rather like Toastmasters!)
I’ve noticed that I have a strange propensity to spout off about my personal terror without actually feeling a whole lot of personal terror. There is some mild anxiety—will I disappoint myself? Will I amaze myself?—but I’m not nearly as worried or afraid as you might expect when I say things like this: “Oh my god, I haven’t touched my speech yet. I’m teeerrrified.” If the words don’t convey it, my tone of voice will. And then people start to comfort and reassure me, and a voice in my head goes, “What? You’re not that scared. In fact, I think you’re making yourself that scared by telling yourself you’re that scared. Stop that!!”
The funny thing is, that voice is completely right. I’m really not that scared. Part of me can’t even grasp being that scared about something so little and silly (and exciting and interesting and growth-inducing—and FUN!). And I think I may understand what’s going on. I’m terrified… out of habit.
I have a funny propensity to minimize myself. To ensmallenate myself. I have this funny idea (way back in the brainwashed, badly malprogrammed part of my brain) that it’s safer, better, and more loveable to be small, weak, and afraid.
Yeah, I know.
So apparently that part of my brain—the unembigginated part—aligns very happily with the idea of being terrified, just shakin’ in my boots, at the thought of speaking in front of people.
Okay, ensmallebrain. Let’s sit down for a minute and talk.
I am super grateful for your kind intentions. I know you are just doing what you think is best. I know you’re only trying to help me! I know that you’ve noticed how easy it is to get people to behave in loving, comforting, downright parental ways if I’m small, weak, and afraid. I can totally appreciate that and I even understand it. But you need to know—just for the purposes of being informed—that I don’t need to be ensmallenated in order to have people love me. I know, I know, I totally know: I used to be under that impression, and I gave you that crazy idea in the first place so of course it’s NO WONDER! that you have made the decisions you have over the last twenty-seven and a half years. But I have more clarity now, and I know a lot better what makes people love me. And it would make me really happy—insanely, marvelously happy—if from now on you could base your decisions on this new information. That people love me just because I’m me, and I’m strong, and brilliant, and unique, and clever. I would like that super much.
No, no—DUDE! We are totally cool. It’s just that one thing.
Yes. Thank you for being SO understanding!
(See? No freakin’ problem!)