I walk into a room full of screeching 9 yr olds. Watch them settle into their desks, look up and start murmuring “english time teeeeechaaa??”, I can’t help but smile………
I wasn’t always smiling. This exact moment would have left me with a panic attack and a chunder. If I tried to do this 2 years ago, I would have a petrified grimace on my face combined with a childhood stutter and a lot of ums and ehrs. I would feel almost ill If had to stand in front of more than 10 people and say something.
You see I was terrified of public speaking – “was” being the key word..
Never being good at talking in public led me to a few horrendous orals and disastrous 21st speeches. I stopped being asked and it suited me just fine, I would have been happy if I never had to do another speech or presentation in my whole life… This all changed in December 2012.
I sat slumped, broken with tears, all giving away that I was not OK. All I wanted to do was stand up in front of these 100+ odd people and tell them what an amazing person my best friend was. Many times I contemplated standing up there. A furious battle going on in my head but in the end I sat in my chair, defeated, broken, eyes downcast and completely lost and disappointed in myself.
Candice Molzen changed my life in so many ways. She was my best friend, my confidant, my supporter, my accomplice and my favourite person in this world. In all the ways that Candice changed my life, it was in her death that changed it the most. As a person who would seize every day and squeeze as much life as you possibly could it, she lived a lifetime in her short 22 years on this earth. Its that attitude that made her contagious, a simple smirk and one look from her blue eyes would get you to do most things. I always knew if you saw Cands you would be going on some epic adventure somewhere.
Candices’ passing made me realize that I didn’t want be that guy who would never do a presentation. The guy to never talk in front of a crowd and share a story, inspire or testify how amazing someone is.
I knew she would look at me and say “ag man, just go do it” and that’s all it would take from her. Because I knew whatever happened, it would be discussed, dissected and laughed about and we would be on to the next “ag man, let’s just go do it” moment.
My first week back in Cape Town I took up my dads advice and enrolled in E & Y Toastmasters. Why I chose the breakfast club out of the many clubs in Cape Town still baffles me. I never once had a breakfast there, not because it wasn’t delicious or I wasn’t hungry. But because every time I thought of food and the prospect of standing up, and talking to these people, an image of me projectile vomiting over (wich I am really good at) these people haunted me.
I did some speeches, not very well but received great feedback and would come back once a week to try and hone my skills some more. Juggling my final year at varsity, a full-time job, toastmasters then took a backseat. I found that I was still nervous after every time I had to stand up and try hold their attention for two minutes. After a few speeches and one critical feedback I decided subconsciously, not to go back.
So now I could maybe talk in front of people, if I was asked, but I hadn’t conquered my fear. I could tell better stories and hold engagement, but I wanted to inspire, I wanted to change lives when I spoke and above all I didn’t want to be scared. Public speaking wasn’t something I conquered and I knew it, but I felt I had made an OK improvement. I had embraced my fear and sought to try defeat it.
It was a year later I sat on the phone to a client, he was telling me how amazing Thailand is and he was going to blow off the Ski holiday I was trying to sell him. I wanted to go to Thailand too, and I also wanted to ski. The whole reason I got into Travel was, so that I could do that. But the once a year was not good enough for me. I looked into going abroad my choices being; working on a ski season, a culture visa and internship in the states or a teacher in Asia.