A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking at one of my favourite-ever creative events – Blogtacular. The day started with an opening keynote speech by Grace Bonney, all about facing fear. It was pretty fitting, seeing as I was gearing up to face one of my own biggest fears – public speaking!
Like many people, the idea of standing in front of a bunch of strangers and trying to make myself sound interesting and clever and inspiring while they sit there staring makes my heart palpitate. However, I’ve got a habit of blindly saying yes to things without thinking about it, then only realising afterwards how freakishly terrified I am of doing whatever it is I’m signed up to. So when my editor Lara suggested we do a talk on the creative process and staying inspired (which I’ve been writing about a lot recently) I immediately agreed. Then realised I was actually going to have to do it. Whoops.
Turns out, my annoying habit of landing myself in scary situations is actually something of a blessing, as it forces me out of my comfort zone and gets me staring those fears right in the face. And do you know what? They usually turn out to be not so scary after all. In the end, I really enjoyed working on and delivering our talk, and all the positive feedback afterwards was just great. So I thought I’d share a few tips the whole process has taught me about facing those scary situations head-on.
1. Realise there’s no difference between you and someone else who already does whatever it is you’re scared of
I’ve always found the realisation of just how similar I am to everyone else to be one of the most liberating feelings, ever. At least 90% of anything is a mixture of guts, work and a little luck, and talent only ever plays a small part. When I got a freak-out about speaking, I just thought: why should other people be able to do this, and not me? What magical powers do they possess? Answer: none.
2. Imagine what the absolute best outcome could be
Think what you could miss out on if you don’t go through with your fear. Visualising all the amazing things that could happen, or how you’ll feel if you succeed, can be the best motivator. Thinking about what a high I’d be on if the talk went well stopped me from backing out.
3. Talk about it
Tell people about your fears – preferably people involved with or who’ve been through the same thing as you. The more you air them, the smaller they’ll seem. Telling Lara and the rest of my team how nervous I was really helped chill me out.
4. Prepare yourself
Yes, you should do it. But don’t do it badly, otherwise you’ll have a terrible experience and it’ll put you off taking risks in the future. Before Lara and I did our presentation for real, we practised several times. And when I was younger, before I jumped on planes to other countries on my own, I thoroughly researched and planned where I was going.