My best moment of not caring

The thin fingers that were keeping the pencil inside the compass box, were shivering hard. A classmate who observed this and , added to the scarlet me, and the memory stayed through the years. As a little girl in school, my language writing skills were good. I liked my national language, Hindi. I also loved English language, which was the medium of my education in my country, India. Teachers loved to read what I wrote, but sadly when it came to speaking in front of a crowd, I felt my world breaking. I would sweat, my hands would shiver, my feet went numb, and yet the worse was still to come. After a few lines I would end up breathless. My words would shiver. People around me would hear my shivering words and laugh. It was the same case everytime, infront of my class, a crowd or even a group of five friends. I grew to higher classes and my stage fear grew manifold. A few in the teachers knew about my situation. But everytime a new teacher asked me to stand up and read few lines, I would be in the same dark space, alone. At one instance a teacher asked me to surrender a beautiful essay I had written on happiness to another student as this student was a confident speaker and went on to read out my essay in a competition. She won it. She came and read out my essay in front of the whole school, beaming with joy and confidence. I stood in the assembly and heard every word I had written from her. For the first time I was not hungry that day at the lunch hours. I slowly progressed to higher grades, my shivering hands received awards for both English and hindi literature. Teachers would be astonished at my writing skills. And yet I looked back longingly at the kids hosting on mike, so comfortable as if they were speaking at home. The monster was there in my mind. Looking even more fiercely into my eyes. Sometimes I would blame myself, other times I felt it was my karma. I graduated, shying away from limelight, stage, people. It was time to do my MBA. The fear monster, was now a comfortable resident of my mind. My degree entailed giving presentations in front of class. I dodged my turn as far as I could. My nervousness made my classmates make fun of me behind me. I felt helpless. I had few admirers of my youth too in the class by now. It felt worse to speak nervous in front of them. A thoughtful friend in class understood my predicament and he advised me to practice hearing my own recorded speech. I practiced. It did help me in recognizing the words I was eating in my speech, but speaking confident was still far off. I spent on public speaking books. Strangely I knew the small nuances now in speaking, and yet feared stage. I opted for finance stream, as I knew marketing stream would mean more public speaking. This was it. The monster had won. It made me take a decision I didn't want. I hated desk jobs. Wanted to be the star, but … Done with MBA, I finally landed up a job at a small financing firm. Too much travel and work, I was in a happy space. The fear lived in me. Then there was an event at my workplace. All prospective buyers were the audience. A crowd of around sixty people. My team had four marketing guys and me. Being the only Female member, it was now my job to explain our scheme. My boss looked upon me to present. This was it. Back into the monsters battlefield. All those meditation techniques, all practice sessions felt faint. Can anything calm a thudding heart in fear? And then, I decided, something very small. This small decision which was going to effect the rest of my living. I decided that day that I woudn't bother at all. I will give my presentation the way I can. I was wary of the monster. Only I knew the words in my mind? So I woudn't let people laughing on me or looking at me bother me. I was feeling fine and anxious too in my crimson dress. When it was the turn of my company to present, I stepped forward and spoke about our schemes. I was tired and overwhelmed and just wanted to get done with the thing. I went slowly, was aware of what I was speaking, even enjoyed saying the last few lines. The audience clapped for me. I was on sweat but smiling. My team members felt I was good. My boss was less in words, but appreciative. I felt I had tasted something for the first time. The taste of a mild confidence. I was smiling all the way back home. That day and moment changed me a lot. Speaking now came easy to me. My world was changed. The stage felt friendly. The mike felt inviting. I thanked my gods and all those who helped me in their way. Public speaking became my strength. I knew the audience I wanted to boast in front of, my school and college class, was long gone. It came late. But I was happy. Today I get invited to speak at events. My perspective changed too. I now want my audience to listen to everything I say. Understand everything I have to say. I am not fearful anymore. And for me nothing in the world is as precious as this feeling.

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