*This post contains a gifted experience*
At the beginning of 2020 I had a feeling that this year would throw a lot at me. 2019 felt to me like a year of really putting the work in, and I was quietly hoping 2020 would be time for it to start coming to fruition. For things to start… happening.
As it turns out, so far at least, my prediction’s been dead on. Opportunities started revealing themselves and I’ve found myself saying yes to a lot of things that both excite and terrify me.
And it’s the terrifying side of things I want to focus on today. One of the opportunities that came my way was to join a confidence workshop that would help me understand nerves and fear better and develop practical skills to feel more confident.
While I feel confident in certain areas of my work, like writing, talking on stories and recording podcasts, I’m keen to try new things this year that I’m not confident in.
I did my first ever talk in 2018 and my first ever workshop in 2019. This year I want to stretch myself and do more of these, but I knew I would need some help controlling my anxiety. So of course, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the confidence workshop.
Kirsty Hulse, who led the training, was actually speaking at the same event as me in 2018 and I was in awe of her natural, confident approach. Her work involves giving talks and running workshops, so who better to learn from?
On the day I honestly learnt so much. But the biggest realisation for me was the fact that the thing I was fearing the most… was fear itself.
When I thought about speaking, I thought about the way my nerves make me shake and feel sick. I’m not really even thinking about the talk going wrong. I’m more concerned about the fact I’ll pass out, be sick or simply unable to speak.
Living with anxiety is a funny thing. After a while you come to accept it as part of you. I do at least, and I know when things flare up and I feel anxious, I need to ramp up my self-care and usually it calms itself back down. I don’t worry when I feel the symptoms of anxiety starting up, but instead I simply see it as something I need to deal with from time to time.
I guess because of this, part of me expects to be unable to do things like public speaking. I expect my anxiety to reach scary new levels. Perhaps this expectation is why it does.
My desire to do these things however, outweighs the fear. Now I know the thing I’m most worried about is the fear itself, I feel like I can handle it better. I learnt techniques at the workshop to change my physical responses. I can tell myself it’s just my brain overreacting. I can talk myself down.
I’ve also learnt over the years that the best way to get over the fear of something like this is to slowly nudge out of my comfort zone, to do the thing that scares me, gather evidence and prove to myself that I can.
At this point I want to remind you that there is a big difference between feeling nervous and shaky before doing something that scares you, and having a full-on phobic reaction. There’s nothing wrong with saying “no, that’s not for me” and finding your own way to do things.
For me though, having done a couple now – I know how happy and fulfilled I feel after giving talks/workshops and I know it’s an area I want to pursue.
So that’s what I intend to do. When this post is live, I’ll (hopefully) be in bed, recovering after speaking on a panel at Live Well London festival. I’ll be preparing to give a workshop at Oxford University next week and possibly readying myself for another couple of opportunities throughout March and April.
I’m not saying I won’t be scared while I do it, but I know that fear (and indeed the fear of fear), cannot stop me.
Have you ever thought about where your fear stems from when trying new things? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, let me know over on Instagram. I’ll be back next week with a podcast on being OK with just being ‘OK’ at something, and a blog about the impact of knowing your worth.
Until then, take care.
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