Apparently just about every conference in the universe needs to be held back to back weekends in April. Okay, I’m obviously exggerating! However, doing three presentations on differing topics, for vastly opposite audiences, in numerous locations can make me a bit anxious and dramatic.
This isn’t anything new. We all experience a variety of emotions when we are to present in front of others. It can be a conference, a meeting, or friendly group but the nerves are similar in large part to a reaction to our self worth and the expectation of others.
I’m not a person that gets stage fright. However, I do experience some features of impostor syndrome. Don’t know what that is? I’ll break it down for you, basically the person feels like a fraud. The individual is fearful that they are fooling themselves and others into believing they are as strong in an area, when they really are not. Apply self doubt to a work situation and you got the making of some awesome Wizard-of-Ozness… pull back the curtain and boom all is revealed.
Everyone I know begins to experience insecurity before they present. It is natural to wonder if you are going to explain things correctly, be interesting, or well received. We are social creatures and we want to be thought of positively. However, much we tell ourselves that everyone experiences fears of being judged we cant’ seem to shake the notion that it is just us.
And this fact is normal as well. We project all sorts of qualities and defeciets on to other people. We generalize and categorize others on a daily basis. It is a requirement for humans to judge safety. Hence, it is also natural to be concerned that others will think of us as unworthy.
We get stuck in a spiral of feeling inferior, incompetence, and fearful. What are we to do in these situations? I have the answer… although I admit you probably won’t like it. For that matter, I don’t like the answer it. But the truth still remains… the best way to deal with these feelings is to acknowledge them as real, put them into context, and express them.
Yeah, I know. It is so much easier with our illusions of control that we just have a step by step approach to conquering all. Yet, that is kind of the point. This isnt’ about conquering. It is about being authentic with yourself. If you know you are scared… don’t push it away. Realize that you are having the emotion, understand that it is natural and normal and understandable that you have these feelings, and then share them. It really is the last one that gets at us..isn’t it?
Why would we share the exact thing we are fearful that people will find out about us? Well, first off you take away the power the situation holds by pretending. You acknowledge the truth and it will set you free… or some such saying states. And then when you allow yourself to normalize the situation you come to a contextual understanding of how common the feelings are… and again the power that fear holds over you begins to diminish. Finally, when you express to someone else what is really going on, you and others start to realize how to support one another rather than pretend.
We all know that we get scared but why don’t we talk about it? We are afraid we will appear weak or judged yet if the emotion is really no big deal like we pretend then it wouldn’t be a problem to mention it. Ah, logic is sound but emotions are tricky. Wouldn’t you rather just be who you are and be honest about what is going on? Wouldn’t you rather a world around you that didn’t pretend but instead acknowledged human nature as it really is?
I know that I’m nervous about if I’m going to present well at conferences. I know that people are going to judge me, my ideas, and my style. I know this is natural and I know that I want to live an authentic life rather than pretend. So that means I might mess up, people may dislike me, and that is just part of the process. However, it also means I might do really well and people may enjoy what I have to say. There is a wide variety of options but beyond all else I know that I’m not a fraud because I’m direct about who I am. With that comes a strong sense of self and what more could any one of us ask for in such situations?
So you are welcome to join me at the next convention where I’ll be presenting twice at SINSation in Leather in Chicago on April 2nd and 3rd.