Dear Reader, how often do you stop yourself from doing something just because you are afraid? Well, you are not alone. I too did that several times in the past. However, from my personal experience, I can tell you that your fear is not so much in the doing or action; your fear is more on the outcome of your action. My advice to you is this- Face your fear.
If you ask me to describe myself, I would say this: I am a reserved person (I would rather say reserved than shy but I meant shy); I am more of a listener than a talker; I am an introvert; and so on. I would use any description that disguises my fear.
Although these statements are indeed a close description of my personality, I used them as an excuse whenever I felt afraid to take an action. The real truth is I was afraid to speak in public. “Public” for me was any other person besides me. Whether I was in the midst of friends, family members, co-workers, or my superiors; neither the size of the audience nor my familiarity with the audience mattered. I was generally afraid of speaking to anyone besides myself because I was afraid that I was not fluent. I feared that I would make a fool of myself if I spoke out.
For years I held on to my fear and I was able to get by until it became a problem later on.
In February 2017, I attended a job interview. This was the longest job interview I have ever had. It lasted about an hour. The interview was conducted by a panel of six (6) interviewers who kept throwing questions at me. Because I wanted the job, I answered the questions to the best of my ability. I realized that I needed to convince the panel that I was the right person for the job, so I gave it my all.
After the interview, I noticed that I spoke so much. I did not care how the words came out; I only made sure that I had a response for every question asked. How was I able to do that? Looking back, I can tell you that my goal, which was to convince the panel that I was the right candidate for the job, was stronger than my fear of speaking in public.
And guess what? I got the job!
As I began my new job, I realized that the job required relating with people most of the time – our clients, my colleagues and my superiors. The first year was very tough. I think it became obvious that I was not able to speak fluently because my line manager commented on it at my appraisal. Thankfully, it did not affect my performance on the job; he only encouraged me to work on it. It was at that moment, I made up my mind to do something about it. It was time to face my fear!
I began by taking some courses on effective communication, public speaking, and vocabulary development. Afterward, I made a decision to speak up whenever I was in a gathering; I must not leave any gathering without making at least one or two contributions. Because of the decision I made, I would prepare for any gathering I was going to be in. I practiced several sentences over and over until they sunk in my mind. While I was at the gathering, I would prepare my speech in my mind before speaking up. I never waited to be called before speaking because I did not want to be put on the spot.
These efforts have continued for years now and over time, I have felt my fear diminishing. Although it is still there, its effect is much less and I no longer pay attention to it.
Guess what? People no longer believe me when I say I am an introvert, a quiet, or a reserved person. They say I am the opposite (chuckle). I do not mind though, I know who I am and I know just how far I have come to become the personality they see.
Friend, do you see that fear can hinder you from becoming who want to be or achieving your goals? It is time to take control of your life. Rather than feed it, you should face your fear.
You can do it!