OK yes, I crawled outside my box and actually spoke in public, I survived the ordeal. For me this is a huge milestone and I am here to tell the story. Most of you know that I do NOT like speaking in front of an audience, and I am really not good at it. I know that. What most of you don't know is that I used to do it frequently.
What many of you don't know about me is that as a lactation consultant many, many years ago, I educated the entire maternal-child health department at Womack Army Medical Center on the new breasfeeding policies and procedures, that I wrote, for the section. Which encompassed several weekend long inservices, as it was mandatory that every employee take the course. What you don't know is that I was the hospital's Neonatal Advanced Life Support Educator, which means I taught and tested employees in the hospital and outlying clinics in NALS. I taught infant CPR to parents, I taught breasfeeding classes to parents. When we moved to Germany I became a Lamaze instructor and taught Lamaze and Breasfeeding classes there, as well as helped moms with breasfeeding problems/concerns.
Not that I ever enjoyed public speaking but I did a lot of it. So I am not sure where this inability to speak in public comes from. Since moving here to North Carolina I have loved my roles as homeschooling mom, and wife. I have enjoyed organizing many types of events and activities. Being behind the scenes and doing the leg work is fun for me, and rewarding, although generally thankless.
But I really want to try to overcome this hurdle. So yesterday I attended the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice, public hearing in Asheville North Carolina. I wrote about this hearing, and my plan to attend right here on my blog. A few days ago a thought crossed my mind that I might be able to speak. OK so it was just a fleeting thought as public speaking terrifies me. But I put the idea out into the universe and one of the wonderful women at Moms Rising, helped me gather my thoughts into a few paragraphs that sounded nice. But the terrifying thing is the getting up there and speaking. I didn't sign up beforehand to speak, I knew for me it would have to be an in the moment kind of thing or I would drive myself crazy.
So I printed off my little speaking blurb and headed up the mountain. Getting into the hearing area there was a long table and two sign up sheets. You could sign up as a guest or as someone who wanted to speak. So I stepped back from the table and let other people pass by as I pondered what, for me, was a HUGE decision, do I commit to speak or back out. As I was standing there, a lovely lady on the other side of the table, who was explaining the procedure to people, whispered to me "you can do it". She doesn't know how much that meant to me, in that moment, she has no idea how big a deal this was for me. And so with that I added my name to the impressive list of speakers and took a seat.
To start, the room was like 150 degrees. They said the A/C in the courthouse turns off automatically at 5 (the hearing started at 6) and the back wall of this room is all WINDOWS facing west or course. So the setting sun was just heating it up like a solar oven. I was a little intimidated, as they went around the room and every elected official stood up and introduced themselves, so about 1/4 of the 100-150 people are elected officials. From listening to the other speakers I would guess that another 1/4 were attorneys and most of the rest worked in the court/legal system in some capacity. I think there were only a few parents or people not employed within the system, there. So everyone was in suits or heels, except maybe 4 people (including me). They were speaking to the commission about all sorts of topics. Many of the speakers were judges and lawyers.
But I sat there and told myself that I was strong, that I could do this and that I had just as much right to be there and speak as anyone else. And I did. I was nervous. Those of you that know me, know that talking about my boys brings tears to my eyes and I did talk about them and how terrifying it would have been for me, if at 16 or 17 they had done something wrong, they would have been charged, and treated as adults and would have been held with other adults. How terrifying for me and how scary for them. I mean they are barely adults now, let alone at 16. We all know what it is like to be 16 and know everything.
So anyway I spoke, I choked up a little but held it together, and I forged on through and I did it. I am hoping to build on this experience trusting that it will become easier in time. Jumping outside that box of mine is difficult. It would be so much easier to just stay in my comfort zone. But there are things I want to do, and I really want to get through some of the difficulties of being an introvert.
(of course as any good introvert, as soon as the hearing concluded, I bolted out of the room away from all the people...one step at a time...)
I hope that you are finding ways to look outside your box a little, whatever that box may be. The view is empowering.