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Overcoming fear
        June 24, 2015     14h56     0 Comments

When I was in high school, everyone kept telling me that if I kept studying and working really hard, I had a good chance of being valedictorian. "It'll be amazing," they'd say, "you get to give a speech an everything!"

But I was scared. Frightened, actually. I was scared of speaking in public, in front of so many people, at such an important event. What if I wasn't good enough?? What if what I said was ridiculed? What if *I* were ridiculed?!

I even considered doing a little less. "I'll work hard enough to be number 3. It's still really good, but I won't have to give a speech!" is what I'd tell anyone who asked.

Long story short, I ended up being valedictorian (by something ridiculous by .01 points) and I wrote that speech and I practiced it and everyone loved it. I was scared when I was doing it, but it went relatively well.

Since I graduated from high school in June 1999, I've had to talk in front of people on many occasions, and I was always scared. Defending my Masters thesis, teaching new groups of students, training fellow teachers, giving talks at conferences ... every time, I'd be scared of all the things that could happen.

Over the past couple of years, I've had to overcome my fear of speaking in public. I'm now the head of the language center, which means that I run meetings at least twice a month, and it's my job to speak up at meetings in order to represent the rest of my colleagues.

I've also started doing some research into language learning (with Ciara's help!) and talking about the links between technology and education. In less than a week at the beginning of June, I presented a research analysis with Ciara at a conference (from June 4 to June 6) then I came back to Lyon where I presented a practical application of technology in language learning at a day-long seminar AND participated in a roundtable discussion. All of these presentations were in French, btw, so not only was I scared of speaking in public, there was the added obstacle of making language mistakes!

If I can give you some advice about overcoming fear, I would say that the best way is to just take the action that scares you. Once I said yes to those presentations, I didn't have much of a choice. I had to do them. Even if I was scared, I left myself no way out. When you're scared of something like that, something that is not really that scary, just push yourself to do it. (I mean, speaking in public is not the same thing as, oh, I don't know, bungee jumping or skydiving, you know?). I'm not going to tell you that I LOVE speaking in public today, but I can say that I'm getting used to it enough that it doesn't bother me as much anymore.

I wanted to end with some pictures from the conference I was at with Ciara, but I don't have any, so I'll end with these words:

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

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