How Manatees Helped Me

23 Feb

What are you afraid of? I think a better question for me is, “what are you not afraid of?” because I’m afraid of a lot of things, things that are reserved for either those who are really weird (eyes that grow on potatoes) or really young (the dark).  So I was amazed that the one phobia that tops peoples’ list of fears is glossophobia.  Glossophobia is a fear of public speaking.  Now, I can understand necrophobia (fear of death), acrophobia (fear of heights) and even atelophobia (fear of imperfection).  However, conquering public speaking is much simpler than people think. 

When I was in elementary school everyone in my class had to read a book and do a brief book presentation.  I think my book was on manatees and I was petrified.  I absolutely did not want to stand in front of my classmates and discuss my book on some aquatic animal.  Growing up I was a shy and awkward child, I wore huge coke-bottle glasses and my outfit of choice was spandex shorts with huge t-shirts.  Needless to say, I didn’t have many friends.  The last thing I wanted was for everyone to stare at me blabbing about sea cows.  So of course I did what any reasonable, socially awkward child would have done: I told my mom I was “sick” on the day of my presentation.  Was I proud of it?  No, but I did get out of explaining to my classmates how manatee means “breast” to people in the Caribbean, so I was satisfied.  Yet, I remember how much I hated being afraid of something to the point where I had to lie.

 It would be a lie for me to say that public speaking doesn’t still make me nervous because it does.  There is a lot of room for error and a lot of ways for presentations to go awry, but what I always tell myself is, “no one knows how I’m feeling but me.”  If I act like I’m unafraid, calm and confident then who is anyone to tell me I’m not those things?   You are who you want to be and if that fails I guess you can always picture everyone in their underwear.

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2 Responses to “How Manatees Helped Me”

  1. Sumiko Maser February 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Humor always makes it easier for me to speak in front of people- now I will always remember the Sea Cow when I have to make a presentation. Thanks!

    • kelleyzwong February 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

      Glad me and my socially awkward childhood could help. 🙂

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