The Thing I Dreaded the Most….

Esther Egerton

The thing I dreaded the most as soon as I had done it, I wanted to get up and do it again. What is that all about? Initially I think it is an adrenalin rush after achieving something that you were dreading you then feel like you have conquered the world. It’s that glorious moment when the critical voice has yet to kick in and you start to dissect your performance.

You do come down eventually, whether it takes 5 minutes or 5 hours, but essentially you do feel a great sense of accomplishment, well I did anyway.

You see I am happy to get up on a stage with a well rehearsed part and look out to an audience that actually you cannot see, (apart from maybe the first two rows) – it’s just blackness. You can be in the zone, there are no distractions and anyway you are being someone else. Delicious.

However, put me in a room where I have to present and I have written the speech and I can see all those faces and yes I have prepared but I don’t want to sound rehearsed… and.. and…I just have to be myself – gulp! I want to show my natural, vulnerable self and it’s flipping scary. So what have I been doing? I have been putting myself forward for any kind of opportunity where I can speak in front of a group, deliver something challenging to a number of colleagues. I have been saying “YES” to all of it. You’re probably thinking ‘She must be mad, I couldn’t do that.’

Actually quite a few people have said that to me, not the mad bit, but ‘I couldn’t do what you do’. And there’s the rub, there’s a high percentage of people who would rather be buried alive than stand up and present. No really it’s true.

So then I started asking the question- why is this? It is because we’re worried about what people think of us? There is a strong need in all of us to want to belong.

You can however do it. As they say if I can do it you can do it, it’s that simple. It might not be the most comfortable feeling in the world, but the more you do it the easier it becomes. If you weren’t scared and didn’t feel the nerves, which you can reframe as excitement it would mean you didn’t care and perhaps you would dial in the performance. Like a sports person does after a thrilling game and they do the ‘sports talk’ thing, you know like they’re talking about someone else – in the third person!! That really winds me up, where is the passion, the vulnerability the connection with their audience? Perhaps, they’re just knackered.

I am giving you permission that it’s ok to show up as you, even if you feel like a bundle of nerves and you worried you might look stupid, just say to yourself ‘it’s ok I am being me, it’s real’ and people will understand, they know what it feels like.

It doesn’t matter anyway what they think as it’s there stuff and you’ll never really know and that’s a waste of energy. You are being brave. As Brene Brown argues ‘that vulnerability is in fact a strength, and when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves we grow distanced from things that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.’

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