Friday, July 25, 2008

Best of Doing It Anyway

I. HATE. SPEAKING IN FRONT OF GROUPS. I do not enjoy giving a speech to a crowd. I think I do whatever the opposite of enjoying it is - my stomach gets tied up in knots, I get nervous as all hell, and sometimes I have to shotgun a beer or drink a screwdriver (nicely packaged in an innocent orange juice bottle) right before I get on stage. I know it's not a big deal for some people, but I hate it. See my first sentence. I think it ties back to my perfectionism, and being afraid I'm going to both make a mistake and that people will judge me for it.

HOWEVER, I do it anyway. Someone asks me to speak, and I agree to it, and then I dread it until the day comes. Then the dread turns into terror, and maybe I have a drink to calm those nerves, and I get through it. Sometimes with a shaky voice, and once memorably when I fell flat on my face on the stage, but I do it.

Today was one of those days. I had to speak to a group of young Latin American leaders about what I do in politics, and I was hoping something would happen (maybe a fender bender?) so I would have to cancel. I worried, fretted, and griped about it all morning, trying to stay in bed. Grant made me get up.

I got dressed, bitching the whole time, threw myself out of my house, and got in my car. I read over the materials about the group again, and realized they were being sponsored by the Secretary of State. That made it cooler and also freaked me the fuck out all the more. When I got to the venue, I was the only car in the parking lot. I tried the door: locked. I thought, "THANK GOD. I can get in my car, drive away, and tell the host organization that I TRIED to make it, but no one was there." I almost drove away.

But I stayed. And I spoke. And I did a good job. And I did it without the edge-taking-off effects of a drink. And I think it is one of the coolest things I've ever done.

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