Presentation on theme: "Several hundred faces stared at me. Some people were laughing softly; others quietly attentive. Dressed in a white gown, I stood onstage. I was one of."— Presentation transcript:
Several hundred faces stared at me. Some people were laughing softly; others quietly attentive. Dressed in a white gown, I stood onstage. I was one of six girls in the senior class who had been voted “princess” to represent our high school in a huge, citywide festival.
When I was selected, I knew that I’d eventually have to give a speech to the student body, so with considerable anxiety, I decided to take on the challenge and conquer my fear of public speaking.
Little did the audience know that as I stood there looking “all together,” my heart beat wildly. Then I decided that must not be true at all—surely, they could hear the hammering of my heart. Dear God, what am I doing?
No butterflies remained in my stomach. No, now I had elephants! The thundering herd was threatening to trample me inside out. Nervousness filled my veins, making me feel light-headed.
I stepped to the microphone. Aware of all the heads bobbing in the sea before me, I began my speech. A few phrases tumbled out quickly, the tremor in my voice noticeable. Yet with the crowd quieted down, a growing sense of confidence began to build as each word left my mouth. My muscles relaxed. My breathing eased. Maybe the weeks of practicing before my bedroom mirror were paying off. “Maybe I can really do this,” I thought.
So much for my onstage vacation. Disaster struck as quickly as a rainstorm in the Bahamas! At first, all I knew was that the amplified sound of my voice had become distant. Like an echo you were supposed to hear but couldn’t quite.
Just thirty seconds into my three- minute speech, the microphone died. Glaring at the offending instrument of my potential downfall, I wondered if it was possible to strangle an inanimate object! How could it do this to me?
Outwardly paralyzed with horror and humiliation, I frantically plotted the appropriate reaction. Should I run from the stage in despair or wait for power to return to the microphone? Time seemed to stand still, crystallizing a moment of opportunity when intent suddenly meant everything.
I chose neither of my first quick solutions. Instead, I told myself only when I faced this unexpected obstacle head-on could I be the victor. Making the next moment my own, I closed my eyes to still my quaking limbs. I next forced out the hot anxiety in my lungs to make room for what I intended to do.
One deep inhale, one moment, and then I continued. Before me, the hushed audience focused on each new word, as if I were a bird, singing out for the very first time. Knowing I had made the right decision, I felt the blood return to my drained face, along with a calm, sure feeling.
And from somewhere beside me, I heard my voice boom, this time without electronic help. It reached far into the upper balcony, where I could see people no longer bobbing their heads, but sitting fascinated, maybe amazed at how stubborn I was.
My soliloquy ended. It was a moment in time I could always call my own, no matter how they responded. Then the cheering began, surging into a thunderous response. I watched, still surprised, as students rose to their feet, the large room actually vibrating with applause.
I appeared humble on the outside, yet my heart nearly burst with pride on the inside. I had mastered my greatest fear, along with a big extra dose of unforeseen adversity. I had faced my butterflies and even elephants of anxiety. Now, as I looked out on the audience, I thought, this loud cheering is a new kind of elephant thundering in my ear!
Then a realization swept over me like a gift. In an instant, I knew—I could do anything! Taking a bow in my white dress, I felt a glow that I would never forget. And I realized that within me existed a young woman once tested. A young woman who was bolder than her fear.