On Fire

How I overcame my fear of Public Speaking

When I was a freshman student in Asia Pacific College, we had the all-English term. Basically, it is a term where all the subjects you will be enrolled in are English-related such as technical writing, expository writing, research writing, grammar, public speaking, and more. Just imagine how difficult and boring that is to someone who hates English like me! I was dragging myself throughout that torturous term and all I could think of was “When is this going to end?”

I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I was wrong. Something unexpected happened in one of my English subjects. One day I entered the room late for my public speaking class and then I received the shocking news. I was chosen to represent our block for the inter-class public speaking competition. I have to write a speech about the importance of English language and deliver it in front of a large audience. WOW, are you kidding me?

I was very hesitant about it because I am not confident about myself and my skills. I never imagined myself joining a public speaking competition. It was a big challenge and I’m not up for it. For weeks, I was so stressed out about what I was being asked to do. I wanted to accept the idea that I can’t do it. Exhausted after considering all possibilities, I was about to give up when something occurred to me. Instead of seeing a challenge, I saw an opportunity. I saw opportunities to learn, improve, grow, and be confident. After that, it didn’t take too much convincing. “I will take this opportunity. Game on!”

“Instead of seeing a challenge, I saw an opportunity.”

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and 'The Big Day' came. I will never forget the day of the inter-class public speaking competition. I was sitting together with my co-competitors waiting for my turn to deliver my speech. My heart was pounding so loud I thought the one sitting beside me can hear it. Then my name was called. Suddenly, Eminem’s song 'Lose Yourself' started playing inside my head, “If you had / one shot / or one opportunity / to seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment / would you capture it / or just let it slip?” I walked up on stage in front of many people. Silence filled the auditorium. I paused, closed my eyes, and took my deepest breath ever. Then I opened my eyes, exhaled heavily, and whispered to myself “Let’s do this.” Adrenaline rushed into me and I was in the most heightened consciousness of my life. I poured my heart out, fearlessly shared my bold opinions, and delivered my rap-style speech on fire.

Inter-class Public Speaking Competition (2012)

Inter-class Public Speaking Competition (2012)

You know what is crazy about the inter-class public speaking competition? It is that unexpectedly, I won. It’s amazing because just a month before that I hated English so much and I thought that I can't be good at anything. But the medal awarded to me is enough proof that my previous judgments were baseless. The overall experience is very much fulfilling. After that, a lot more opportunities came my way, and since then my life was changed. Looking back now at that story, I realized that all of us will encounter endless challenges in our lives and sometimes it may seem too big that we just quit and stay in our comfort zone. It is important to understand that challenges in life are disguised opportunities. So the moment we let ourselves quit is the moment we stop learning. Don’t waste opportunities. As Eminem put it, “Opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”

“The moment we let ourselves quit is the moment we stop learning.”

Everything I’ve talked about boils down to one important lesson: cultivating the can-do attitude. The can-do attitude is being up for challenges and facing those challenges with confidence. So the next time we encounter a big challenge let’s believe in ourselves and say “I can do it!”

This story was originally published at Thought Cloud, a space to express.

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