There was a time when I struggled in group conversations. One-on-one, I was fine. But, whenever I was put in a situation where I had to converse with more than one person, I would stammer and falter.
It would seem like a completely alien situation. I would not know when to talk. And when not to talk. It led to a lot of awkward and uncomfortable situations. And that, I ultimately dreaded.
This was what led me to join Toastmasters after a while. Since, the organization has a knack for helping its members improve their public speaking and communication skills, I thought it would be a good opportunity for my self-development.
So, I would try to go to their meetings every other week - as much as possible - practicing like my life depended on it. Outside of Toastmasters, I would try to see every opportunity in a group setting as a chance to similarly enhance my communication skills.
Every opportunity was an opportunity to practice and develop. And I felt like that was the right mindset for me to go through this period of challenge in my life.
Looking back, I realize that there are worse things in the world. And that my struggle wasn’t the end-all be-all of anything. It could have been worse. It could always have been worse.
But looking back at that time, it was a humbling experience. It was my first time realizing that life rarely goes the way you plan it. Things will come and hit you in the face, and it is your responsibility to get back up onto that bicycle and continue to ride it out.
It was an invaluable period in my life. And I had always felt at the time that if I could only get over this hump. If I could only improve and feel comfortable again speaking in front of groups, I would be unstoppable in my other areas of life.
I would be back on top of the world again. If only I could get back on that horse and feel comfortable talking in groups again.
I truly felt at that time that communication was one of the most important things in the world. It is funny. Only when you lose something do you begin to realize the true value of its being.
And public speaking was that to me. That’s why going to every Toastmaster meeting felt so important to me. It was my journey, my struggle, my way of being.
And everybody has their own way. Their own struggle. Their own journey. For one person, it might be getting over their fear of public speaking. For another, it may be getting that long awaited promotion.
For another, it may be finally starting a family with their life partner.
It really varies. Everyone has their own story, their own wealth of experience that they can contribute to this game called life.
It was humbling for me to look back during that period of time, but there were numerous lessons learned. And these days, I can thankfully say that my public speaking skills have improved over the years.
Do I feel unstoppable now? Far from it. But, at least I can look back during my periods with social anxiety as a learning process. And as a humbling experience that I can hold thru my entire life.
I can look back at my friends, my family members, my community members, whom all lent a helping hand to me in times of distress. And look back during that period of time with a form of wistful gratitude.
I can see that time as the “good old days”. When life was simpler. When this coronavirus pandemic wasn’t ravaging the nation or the world for that matter.
And a period of time where I came to see the true nature of life in all its imperfect glory. Non-ideal. Blemished. But in a non-toxic, and gratifying way.
I still don’t see myself as unstoppable - even though I can generally say that the fear of public speaking isn’t my primary worry these days. I can view every conversation I have in groups from here on out as a form of icing on the cake. And to look back on the days of anxiety with a smile on my face.
Because life is all about the imperfections. Those are the times in life when we are taught the most. When we develop into complete human beings. When we see everything as imperfectly beautiful.
Life isn’t about feeling unstoppable. It’s about cherishing and soaking in all the ups and downs to see that all that we have to be grateful for is already here. Right here, right now.
When we do get “stopped”, then is the perfect time to soak in the moment and to practice life.