Launcher Quote: “On that day last year, stressed out and sleep deprived, I ponder all of the decisions that led me here.”
Back when I was younger, I tended to be very afraid and apprehensive about any kind of public speaking opportunity, no matter how big of an audience I had. It could have been as big as a crowd of people at the mall, or as small and intimate as my family at home before a meal, but it always tended to freak me out and make me nervous. The primary reason for this was the fact that I always felt that the eyes that were on me, that followed me around as I spoke, and which showed me that attention was being focused on me, were judging me, unblinking, and unwavering. The weight of those eyes on me felt like a two ton car being set upon me.
The sense that I got, as I moved down the stairs of the lecture hall in this Meditation Games entry and moved toward the podium, was definitely something along those lines. As I turned to look at the audience, I saw them staring at me, as if I was the most interesting or only person of repute in the room. Despite the blinking, bleary-eyed portrayal of my character, those eyes never left me, and more of them stared as I trudged down the aisle steps. It was a bit of a disturbing feeling, as no expression other than the stares seemed to follow me, even as I didn’t tend to look at them.
Luckily, these days I’ve gotten over my little bit of stage fright, much of it accomplished by just having to go up in front of crowds and just speak. I’ve spoken in front of as many as 3,000 people, about a variety of topics and about myself, and even though I know those stares are still on me I feel more secure in the fact that I’m sharing something with them, and that I have their attention to give of myself for however long that would be. I take solace in the fact that what I do when I speak in group or public settings is something that I find worthwhile, something that I find is significant, and something that, were I not able to do so, would be depriving myself of an opportunity to make things better for those I’m speaking to. We all, I think, find ourselves in some situation where dread leading up to talking to others is a thing, especially as you worry about being silently judged, and about what led you to the opportunity to talk to them – but the important thing is that the opportunity is there.