I have had counted oral exams. I have taught hundreds of classes at Apple (daily practice and the technical topic made it easy). I have shared in front of 300+ people and hosted conferences and tried my very best to hone this skill. It doesn’t just one day click and you never need to prepare.
I read a wise advice: if you have the choice, ever get up to speak on a topic you are not passionate about. It will show. But sometimes we just have to speak because there is nobody else to do it.
When I talk about adoption I captivate the audience. I speak from my heart and the stories are abundant. I do have other interests and passions but I never forget that I’m an introvert. I never crave the attention.
This Sunday I chose to stand up with a friend and announce a new moms group starting in the church. For weeks I had so many things swimming in my head about what I wanted to say. But I would go back to what is relevant. What do people need to hear, care to hear. What would inform and move as well. I envisioned the speach a lot more engaging but it fell flat. I dislike the nerves before getting up. I have prepared so well everything I wanted to say, but then I still had to use my billet point list to stay on track. I decided to use my phone to remember my lines, and that is where the whole thing went south. The phone is small, but all my oral exams I had learned to not use any queues or aids, and spoke from memory. I need to trust my instinct and my heart more. Using the phone I felt I disconnected from the audience as we asociate disengagement from people who look on their phone. Rookie mistake. I used to print a paper. Reading it a few times my memory would get triggered by the creases in the paper and smooth cruise.
It was evident something was off even though the message was great. I had gone swimming that morning and my hair, while it looked perfect, it was too silky to sit still and would fall on my face, on my eye. Half my brain kept thinking about the hair in my face. It was challenging and disappointing.
But then we got a second chance because of the two services. And we improved on all accounts. My friend also shared. We stood more center stage. At first service she was hiding behind me and I was trying to give her visibility so we kept going backwards.
But, while I was disappointed I didn’t captivate people’s attention, I took it in stride. Second time around I ditched my phone and shared some thoughts I had had, honoring the mom’s meetings from a few years back. It was how I got to iris. At the invitation of a friend.
The words is out. It was never about me. I was there to support my friend whose heart was so itching to start a kind group. I had told her I am doing too much and I have my adoptive moms group, but that is not consistent because I can’t do it well alone.
People at this church are so gracious and I wish I had honored them with a smoother presentation. But as my biology teacher observed when I was in 5th grade, there is such a thing as over prepare. I need to have a direction. I need my bullet points, but I also need creative freedom in the moment.
I am so grateful for the energy I feel, that I am not burnt out. That I am happy and focused and driven. And it is not my sheer willpower. Last year I was just exhausted and sad and my will couldn’t pull me out of it. But today, with small but clear steps, good decisions, healthy boundaries, I am a present mom, happier, more easily delighted. It is not just about tolerating discomfort but befriending it.