Fear, rescue remedy, and speaking in front of people

Given the choice, I will always, without question, hand-on-heart, choose to write. I can write anywhere – in my office, backyard, coffee shop, beach… Dating a musician in the early stages of my PhD, I wrote great chunks of literature review in all sorts of pubs while he set up. Writing is my great love, the thing that makes my heart beat, even when it’s the thing making me tear my hair out trying to figure out the right words.

But tonight, I potentially have to talk in front of people.

This is less a love. It makes my heart beat but in a sweaty, shaking, anxious way. I overdose on Rescue Remedy, do breathing techniques, picture small golden balls of light transporting calm throughout my body, all the things you’re meant to do to ease the anxiety. I always wear something with pockets – to hold the Rescue Remedy I’m overdosing on. I’ve even got to the point where I write out my talk exactly as I’d say it in detailed note form so it’s there, just in case, a necessary security blanket.

However, until I’m up at the front actually speaking, there are two competing thoughts circling around in my mind: ‘Breathe, its all going to be OK’ and ‘Run away, doing this is horrible, just leave now’. So far, I’ve managed to not run out the door with smoke coming from my heels Looney-Tunes-style, but there have been a few close calls.

Maybe it’s a reflection of my nerves but I have this cartoon image of myself, all fed from the Looney Tunes of my childhood. The bright red face of Elmer Fudd. The heart beating out of my chest like Bugs Bunny or Pepe Le Pew. Neuroticism as encapsulated by Daffy Duck. The fast-paced, high-pitched hysteria of all of them. If Road Runner beep-beeped past me, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Apparently, this neuroticism is not always so noticeable to anyone else but it’s maybe why the pictures from Alvy Carragher’s blog ‘With All the Finesse of a Badger’ (http://alvycarragher.blogspot.com.au/) make me laugh so much. It’s the eyes of her characters when her stories reach complete bonkers, in the best possible way – they are calmingly deranged.

While the whole ‘do one thing every day that scares you every day’ mantra is a beautiful idea, the flip side is equally nice as well. After the scary thing, do one thing that is calming to the tips of your toes, because that is just as important. So I’ll be hanging out with my zen master Laks tonight.

So what’s your scary thing?

2 thoughts on “Fear, rescue remedy, and speaking in front of people

  1. “this neuroticism is not always so noticeable to anyone else …”

    This is very true – you are an excellent public speaker and your nerves don’t show through at all. I’ve also never understood the whole “do one thing every day that scares you every day” concept: why put yourself through that when there are lots of enjoyable and rewarding activities that you can do without the stress and anxiety of trying something you know you don’t want to do?


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