I haven’t always been the confident, self-assured person I am today. For most of my life, I’ve been paralyzed by a fear of public speaking. It all began when I was in elementary school and had to give a book report in front of the entire class. Ever since then, my stomach tied up in knots anytime I had to perform in front of others or speak out loud.
My phobia kept me from advancing at work and participating more fully in social settings. Slowly but surely, however, I decided enough was enough and took steps toward conquering my fear. First, I identified mental obstacles – thoughts like ‘everyone is judging me’ or ‘I’m going to mess up’ – that got in the way of progress. Then, I looked for opportunities to practice speaking publicly as often as possible. Slowly but surely my confidence started to build with each step forward and each success big or small along the way.
Turning points during this time included joining a Toastmasters club and working with an online coach who helped me learn proven techniques for overcoming my fear one step at a time. Overcoming my phobia wasn’t easy and there were still times where my anxiety creeped back in from time to time, but ultimately having a mentality that anything worth achieving is worth the work helped me push through it all.
Today it’s hard to believe how far I’ve come from the shy, timid person I used to be–one who was afraid to take any risks or try anything new out of fear that it would end in embarrassment or failure. No matter how scared you may be feeling now, just know that with perseverance you can become the confident version of yourself that you strive for –– just keep pushing!