Public speaking comes natural to me. I never understood why people fear public speaking over death? Then one day, I got the opportunity to read an original poem to an audience and I was terrified. It was almost a year into my improv practice, you know where we make shit up on the spot and I was terrified to read something I pre-written? What happened? Why am I so scared? Not sure if I could go through with it, I came up with an exit strategy. I didn’t tell my friends about the event and I didn’t invite them either so that I could bail if I needed to and my friends wouldn’t be there to stop me. My parents raised my sisters and I to finish what we start, which I always practice. The first time I had this opportunity, I passed on it and told myself if given the opportunity again I would take it. Conflicted I asked my improv instructor N. Massouh for tools to over come fear. Below is the advice he gave to help me through my fear.
As I read my poem I started to cry. Nope, not cry…bawl. Yep, I bawled. My fear was realized. I couldn’t bail now. All eyes were on me. A woman in the audience, with a calming voice, said “Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.” I paused and thought of my instructors. I ground myself through my breath and pushed through my emotion. The breath is powerful and indicates your emotional state at any given time. The next time you feel scared, angry or stressed remember to breathe. Take a few deep breaths. It will make all the difference.
Identify Your Fears
Think about anything you fear. Write those fears on a piece of paper. Lay them on the ground. And walk around them. Each time you encounter a paper pick it up, read it, crumple it and throw it away. When I staffed a leadership program for teens we had the them write down their worries and place them in a jar to symbolically take their worries from them.
Fuck It Seeds
Finally my instructor said “Give me your hand.” He took my hand, closed it and said, “In your hand are fuck it seeds, an endless supply. When ever you feel scared, nervous or think you can’t do something throw these seeds at them and say fuck it.” I have yet to use those seeds, but I have practiced the saying as I push through my fears. And it’s helped me in my improv practice and in my life.
Everyone fears. No one wants to be judged, made fun of or laughed at. No one want’s to fail. Fear is a cage that keeps us from who we are meant to be and the life we are meant to live. The desires we have in life are there for a reason and must be nurtured to be fully realized. I hope these tools help you live your best life and eliminated your fears.