Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Spilling the Beans on my Greatest Fear

Today, let's talk fears and courage.

I actually had a bit of a hard time starting with this entry, because I felt like my fear is not that scary compared to other people. I thought that I'd just look like I was whining. However, I think fear is an arbitrary notion and I think I have a right to fear what I want to regardless of judgement. So let's get on with it.

To be honest, I'm not much of a scaredy-cat. I don't easily get scared with horror movies or ghost stories, or scary rides or big dogs (as long as they're on a leash, haha). I'm pretty OK with most scary situations.

But here's the catch: I am deathly afraid of talking to people. 

You probably don't think it sounds so bad: we all have our moments of clamming up when socializing, right? But I take this issue to a crippling degree. When I was in 3rd grade, I remember almost crying because I didn't want to talk to the lunch lady and buy lunch. I remember putting off a phone call at least 5 times because I didn't want to talk on the phone. I remember crying during Foundation Day because I didn't speak up when they were handing out our uniforms, and a girl who was absent the day before took mine, therefore I didn't get to be in the celebration. That's how scared I am of human interaction!

Granted, I am a lot better now than the blubbering, snivelly mess that I was in the fourth grade, but I still have miles to go when it comes to proper human interaction.

My journey towards proper social interaction is a long and tedious one, but I think the event that finally pushed me over the edge and made me embrace my fear is my speech communications class in college.

I've already established the fact that I suck at face-to-face interaction. How much more will I crumble when faced with 30 people looking at me while bored out of their wits? I think it goes without saying that I also royally suck at doing reports. For the longest time, I managed to get by doing reports by reading off index cards as fast as I possibly can and trying not to look at the audience. My high school was pretty lenient and I was a good kid anyway, so most teachers let me off the hook.

College? Different fucking story.

In college, I was a Communications major because I love to write and want to make a career from it. Unfortunately, communication also requires speaking. PUBLIC speaking. And I had to go through at least four subjects that required speaking in front of an audience on a regular basis.

I did pretty well on my general education speech communication class during freshman year. Our teacher was nice, my classmates were easy-going (and obviously as nervous as I was), and I managed to get by once again.

Then I entered my speech communication core course come sophomore year, and thus my nightmare began.

What an exaggeration, but leave me be haha.

How was it different? For one, my classmates were fellow Communications majors, some who've had experience speaking to large crowds before. The criteria was also more strict as I had to pay attention to diction, speed, tempo and so many things. Lastly, my teacher, while a nice enough lady, was not one to take wimps and sub-par speakers for students.

I remember before our very first major speech, she told us she was going to stop point-blank anybody who was giving a bad presentation. I thought to myself -- "Pssh! She's not gonna do that!"

I had to clamp my mouth shut when she simply told a girl from class in the midst of her presentation, "OK, stop."

I was mortified! I've never experienced seeing a teacher do that my entire life! But the thing that really scared me was: what if it happens to me?

What if I had to be the next person to come up there, flubber like an idiot, and be stopped halfway? It doesn't sound like a big deal, but I was seriously experiencing panic attacks. Lying in my dorm room in the middle of the night wide awake and almost hyperventilating. That's how serious it was. I was even planning on dropping the class.

But after a few afternoons, as my report date loomed nearer, I just snapped and said to myself, "You have to do it. You have to fucking do it, damn the consequences." 

After much prodding and copious amounts of chocolate, I said to myself "Sure, let's just dive headfirst into this pit of despair." Because in my worst case scenario, I could be stopped in the middle of my report, my classmates would laugh and me and my professor would tell the faculty about this bumbling moron in her class. But the thing is life goes on. Nobody actually fucking cares about my failures. And if I did fail, the beauty of things is I could find a way to try again and be better. If not, hey, maybe this field really isn't for me.

So I took the plunge, opened my mouth, spoke a little bit too fast, and looked like an idiot imitating Tsukushi from Hana Yori Dango, but I got through it and finished the report with my partner.


And see? The sun was still shining, the earth still rotated on its axis, and the birds were still chirping. I got up in front of several people without breaking down into tears. Life goes on.

The best part of it was receiving the comments from my classmates (after class we all had to give the speakers tiny pieces of paper with critique). There were tips on my Tagalized accent and almost everyone told me that I was speaking too fast (teehee!) but what made me really happy was my classmates telling me they learned a lot and enjoyed the speech.

After that particular class, more reports came and scarier incidents have occurred, but this particular speech was special to me because I finally learned to stop thinking too much and just get it over and done with.

I'm definitely not the best public speaker out there, but now I've learned to embrace the moment and focus on what I'm speaking about instead of making an impression. The thing I value most right now is that I'm definitely getting better. Can you believe I actually won an award for Best Speaker at my summer internship? Even I can't believe it! I'm not looking forward to anymore public speaking stints to come my way, but when they do come, I'm not hiding anymore. Bring it on.


Whew, that was a mouthful! Sorry for the extra-senseless post! I'm not as happy with it as I should be 'cause it's hardly edited.

Photo source: 1

This post has been part of a blogging challenge by Wanderrgirl.


  1. WOO-HOO! Go you! I can totally relate with how scary it can be to get up there and do your thing -- and I'm a Theater major! It still doesn't get any easier for us, believe me.

    Tama ka talaga -- it's a matter of not overthinking it, and just doing it. Congratulations too on your Best Speaker award! :D

    1. Wow, a Theater major! I'm so glad I never had to act hardcore in my Communications classes XD

      Thanks so much Jonette! That was a long time ago but I will always cherish that award :D