Do It Anyway

I had done everything right, and followed all the advice I could find. I knew my part inside and out. I practiced picturing people in their underwear everywhere I went. I had a few friends in the audience for moral support. I ate, slept, and breathed my part for weeks, and I was ready.

On the big night, I looked the part. I had chosen a dramatic, black dress for the occasion. But there I stood, offstage, blinking back tears and gasping for air. I was seriously losing it, but it was my turn. I took a final gulp of air, straightened up and walked center stage with every bit of courage I could muster.

At the microphone, in front of a theatre full of people waiting for eloquent verbiage to come pouring out of me, I was silent. I stood there, my mouth opening and closing, eyes locked on an older gentlemen peering at me over his glasses. In that moment, the only words I had in my head were, “Oh crap.” He started to smile, and my stomach lurched. Backstage, someone whispered, “Fish! Think fish!” I blinked and broke eye contact with the man. I looked around the theatre and spotted a friend giving me a thumbs up. And just like that, the words came back. And I was awesome.

People who have never suffered from debilitating stage fright have no idea what it takes for someone like me to stand in front of a packed theatre and deliver a monologue, present at a business meeting, or teach a class full of cynical freshman who dislike you simply for teaching a general requirement course outside of their majors.

Glossophobia is different for everyone, but for me, it takes summoning a level of courage that doesn’t always seem to exist. Bravery means being afraid, terrified even, and doing whatever it is anyway. I’ve taken all of the advice, and still struggle sometimes with glossophobia. The only thing that has ever worked is just doing it anyway. Sometimes the words I’ve practiced dissipate, and I’m left with seemingly nothing to say. But almost always something cool and organic happens.

So you are afraid to speak in front of people? Do it anyway. Every chance you get. Take point on presentations, do open mic nights, audition for a play. Whatever it is that makes you fret, panic, or break into a cold sweat, do it anyway.

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