dog on a walk_4

 

I’m not a terribly shy person.

 

I’ll strike up conversations at the coffee shop, make new friends at the dog park, and call strangers to tell them how much I love their work.  Put me in front of anyone, and I’ll start chatting.  But put me in front of a group of people and I’ll basically have a heart attack.

 

You see, public speaking is one of my greatest fears (along with centipedes and tornadoes, if you’re curious.)  And in the past when I’ve found myself talking to a roomful of people, my throat will suddenly clench up and I’ll turn a deep shade of red.

 

So when one of my local clients asked me to participate in an Ignite Madison event, I had every intention of saying no.  But for some reason, I surprised myself and said, “Yes.”

 

I regretted my decision immediately.  I spent the next week coming up with as many plausible excuses as I could for why I had to drop the commitment.  Laryngitis?  Dog ate my laptop?

 

But in case my plans to bail fell through, I also started to tentatively sketch out what my short talk might look like.  And then, because I still hadn’t gotten the courage to call the organizer and quit, I began to practice my talk – in my car, then in front of the mirror, then in front of friends on skype.  I even googled for pictures of audiences, and practiced in front of them.  Before I knew it, the big night had arrived.  I somehow managed to drive myself to the venue, and even walk the 5 steps up to the stage.

 

That night I got in front of 200 people, and I talked about my art.

 

It was absolutely terrifying.  But I didn’t have a heart attack.  And even if I did turn beet red, it was too dim for anyone to notice.

 

This is not a post about challenging ourselves to push past our limits.

 

This is a post about being willing to take that tiny first step, and then another, and then another.

 

If you’d like to see my talk, Ignite Madison kindly provided me with a video.  You can see all the talks from that night here.

 

Hi there! I'll be taking maternity leave during the summer of 2018. If you'd like a pet portrait during this time, feel free to drop me a note (awillsie@gmail.com) and I'll let you know as soon as I'm back to the studio. Thanks!