A Story of how I won over STAGE FEAR, one of the greatest fears of my life, and of many people's lives.
In life, each and every one of us have some challenges…., unique to our own circumstances; some weaknesses & fears deep inside us that we desperately strive to fight.
Right from my childhood, I was a person who exercised extreme precautions in social dealings. I always used to think a lot before speaking even a few words to anybody, taking care that I may not speak anything that was ‘wrong’ or could ‘hurt’ another person, the characteristics of an ‘introvert’ and a ‘reserved’ person reflected.
But in stark defiance to my personality, I was attracted towards people with the opposite traits. I was awed by the people who could speak fearlessly in front of huge crowds and get their message across with terrific accuracy. The mere thought of being able to communicate effectively with so many people at once mesmerized me. This was how I developed a passion for public speaking, and the inner longing to master it.
I started by taking part in speeches and debates in schools. I was just like any other common student. Terrified, holding on to the paper, reading it out and trying to rote learn everything. There were some classmates who were absolutely wonderful, and I used to envy them a lot. But that envy served positively, as it used to motivate me. I rarely won in any of the public speaking competitions throughout primary and middle school.
There was this one much hyped and awaited debate competition when I was in 11th standard, and I was on a lethal dose of overconfidence. The judges were one of my favourite teachers, and I intended on making them proud by my performance. Laughably, I went unprepared. I stammered through my first 2 minutes, skipped 10 opening lines, sputtered the few important lines like they were nothing, and ended it 1 minute before the allowed time. It was a total disaster.
For a long period of time afterwards, I never dared try. Every time, that memory kept haunting me. The Fear of Failure gripped me like anything. At times, I tried overcoming this fear but failed. I started seeing successful public speakers as some superhuman creatures, far beyond my capacity to equal. And this is what happens with most of us.
We have two options afterwards. Either we give-up, stop chasing our passions and live a mediocre life. We feel sucked off of our life force eventually. The second option is to gather courage bit by bit, and charge.
I chose to tread on the second path. It is said that to overcome the fear of failure, just do what makes you fearful over and over again. So, I made up my mind to never lose any opportunity of public speaking, and face my fear head-on.
What I did was just try to give it my best shot. I tried to care less and less about my fear, and focused more and more on the convincing power of my arguments. And to my amazement, all the misconceptions that surrounded my stage fear started vanishing. But mind you, it was not an overnight journey, but a slow and struggling one.
The best platforms where I gained tremendous self-confidence were the OTC and the GMCS-I sessions (These are special and compulsory training sessions to be undergone by Chartered Accountant Students). I made full utilization of both the platforms, and began to turn my fear into confidence. I filed nomination and got elected into the committee of Raipur Branch of CICASA (Students' Association). Instead of participating in events, now I was a part of the team organizing them. This change in positions exposed me to a lot of public speaking.
My conviction was proved when I got a chance to present a paper at the “National Convention of CA Students at Lucknow”. I went in prepared this time. I spoke continually for 15 minutes in full flow, without referring to any piece of paper and making a wonderful presentation. This was the point where I thought “Mission Accomplished”.
Today, though I do not boast myself of being an expert public speaker at all, but I have surely overcome, one of my most dominating fears i.e. the stage fear. Now I can pursue my passion of public speaking with a freedom like never before.
Thus, I would like to convey to my buddies throughout India and the world, that no one can stop you except you yourself. Start liberating yourself from the fears that are stopping you from living your lives fully and go conquer the world.