Friday, October 7, 2011

Public Speaking

When the teacher announced that we were doing presentations, I groaned inside. Presenting. It's that dreaded thing that we have to do for some stupid reason when writing an essay would be much better. But no. They insist. I know that my mom's like, "You'll need this. You're lucky that you're being given the opportunity to do this." You know what I think though? I think that so many teachers just like to see us squirm. With their eyes upon you intently, looking for flaws the way you talk and what's on the board ahead of you, that's very easy to do.

I walked up to the front of the room, my body shaking and my heart pounding so loudly that I felt like that crazy man in Edgar Allan Poe's The Telltale Heart. Like I said in my previous post, public speaking... Well, it's enough to scare the piss out of me (I'm not just saying that. It literally almost has a couple of times). It's one thing when it's in front of my mom and my sister but in front of my judgmental classmates and the teacher who is analyzing my performance for a grade...

I didn't focus on them. I'm not sure I really focused on anything but the window in the back of the room that showed the row of lockers. Somehow I stumbled through my presentation, the heat of the glares upon me, and the presentation ended. It was almost as if my brain had went on automatic, some sort of survival mode or instincts. Fight-or-flight to be more exact but with me fighting my nerves.

So I did it. I did it and I have gained an experience and something to be proud of. That's something to gain at least.

I know that I did terribly but I've decided not to care about my grades so much anymore. My grades are just letters; my GPA is just a number. It may be my pass into college but it doesn't define me and I doubt it's even an indicator of how smart I am. So many times in my life I have taken a test and I have gotten an A, no studying involved. But you know what? Within the next month, I have forgotten the information entirely. All of the facts that I learned were meaningless pieces of vocabulary and facts that I crammed into my head, facts that I will never again apply. Which is a shame. My younger self failed to see the bigger picture that those pieces of information formed, the bigger picture that could be learned from learning that information and anything useful I could have gained from that was lost with it. Those teachers who make such a big deal from the book and about getting good grades... They don't get it either and the sad thing is that they've lived their whole lives without getting it.

Basically, I'm stating the above because every time that the teachers make you give a presentation you actually learn something. You get that bigger picture, the piece that you will actually apply. Presenting, however terrifying and terrible it is for me, actually teaches me about myself.

Of course, I still swear that it was designed to make it as painful as possible. I swear that some teachers are gleeful watching squirming students, getting some creepy sadistic high off of it (think Brother Leon in The Chocolate War kind of teachers). I still think that it's made of pure evil, a representation of all of the horrible hurtles I have ever faced. Still, isn't that kind of what life is?

At least I'm not the only one with fear of public speaking. My intense fear of failure may be a hard find among teenagers but not the public speaking. Nope. Everyone is afraid of public speaking, except for people who have done it so often that they are used to it and the people who were born with that natural gift to work with and around other people (damn those people! I envy them).

I will have to do this again. Again and again and again throughout my high school and college years and maybe once I grow older too. I doubt it will get easier for me, quite frankly but I'm working on it.

Public speaking. That age old enemy. I will have to face it, my mother has faced it countless times and my children will have to face it too. It is a necessary evil that we will all have to get used to, because, as stated above, I will have to face it countless times in my life. This is just part of the bigger picture, the picture of my life. It's like looking my demon in the face, something a lot of people don't get to do.

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