Conquering The Horse (AKA The End Of Public Speaking)

They say when you fall off a horse you have to get back on. That horse hurt you like hell, and you’re scared of getting back on incase it happens again, but still, you have to do it. My ‘horse’ was the Sydney Morning Herald Public Speaking Competition. I fell off it last year and hit the ground hard. I was sad and sorry and never wanted to see the bloody horse again. My teachers begged me to enter again this year, so I did. After all, the local round was a mere foal in comparison to the big horse. Falling off it couldn’t hurt me, in a way I almost wanted to fall. Falling would mean avoiding the big horse, and goodness, the further away I stayed from that monstrous thing the better. 


Unfortunately my name was called as the winner, so the horse reared nearer and I wanted to turn and run, scared out of my wits. I didn’t want to go, I would do anything in power to avoid going. Surely I would just fall off again. I cried, begged my mum not to make me go. I cried some more. Then, I was getting on a plane to Sydney. Extreme anxiety had been plaguing me the week prior to my flight. I would wake up in the middle of the night, imagining being back in the room, being back at the scene of my injury. I didn’t want to go. I barely slept last night, the night before the competition, imagining everything that could go wrong. I banned my parents from mentioning it at all, I almost vomited in the taxi on the way to the school. And suddenly, I was back. Memories flooded my mind and all I wanted to do was run. But I went in. I sat through the ten speeches before mine. I got up and gave my long term speech. No one laughed at my jokes, but it was over. I stood with the other contestants whilst they bragged about their schools, their achievements, their plans to be things I didn’t even know existed. I stood there while they agreed my speech was ‘amusing’ but that none of their friends use text speak (my topic), and while they looked down their nose and asked me how being a journalist would contribute to society. 


I still wanted to run. 


Then it was impromptu time. Impromptu was the horse that had bucked me off so severely last year. I thought I was going to be sick. It was going to happen again, I knew it. My brain was screaming “GET OUT OF THERE!” but I stayed. 


Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, it was my turn to enter the room. And I knew stuff about the topic! I was so proud of myself. The horse wasn’t going to get the better of me this time! I stood at the front of the hall, and I talked my heart out. The boy after me interpreted the topic (“The Cutting Edge”) in a completely different way, but I didn’t care. It was over. My public speaking career was finally over. I was still on the horse and could safely dismount. Instead of running out in tears like last year, this year I was able to walk out with my head held high. I knew I hadn’t made the top six (out of twenty four), but I didn’t want to. I had conquered my fear. I had got back on that horse and ridden without falling, and I was so proud of myself. I may not had crossed the finish line first, but that wasn’t the point. All I could have done was my best, and I’m satisfied I did just that. I got up there and talked about things I’m passionate about. While it may not have been politics or climate change or any other serious topic public speakers are so keen on ranting about in monotones, it was what made me happy, and I think I did it well. 


My love for public speaking had ended long ago, but I’m glad I was given this final chance to go out on a good note. Public Speaking, once again, I’d just like to thank you for the memories. We’ve had a great time, and maybe we’ll meet again in the future. 


frangipani princess xoxo

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2 thoughts on “Conquering The Horse (AKA The End Of Public Speaking)

  1. Overcoming your social anxiety in front of that huge crowd and actually competing with 24 others isn't an easy feat. You might not have won, but the effects of your victory over your fear connotes improvement in your self-esteem.

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