Tag Archives: Personal

Speaking in Public Gives me Bad Dreams

26 Apr

Image from weheartit.com

I’ve always had this fear and dread of speaking in front of a group. You would think that after many years of presentations and speeches from elementary school all the way through university and college, through countless client presentations in my working girl years, the nerves wouldn’t grip me so much at any prospect of having to make a presentation.

Not so.

This morning I had to lead a session at work. It’s this thing we have on a weekly basis, where the entire company (about 30 people) gather in the boardroom while we take turns each week presenting (2 at a time) to discuss creative, thought provoking ideas that exist out in the world to help inspire us in our lives and our work. It’s kind of like our own TED Talks.

My partner and I did our research, put together a Powerpoint presentation – or rather, she did, as I fail miserably at having to do anything Microsoft-related – and even did a practice run-through yesterday morning. Still, that helped in no way to calm my nerves.

Last night, I had a horrible sleep. My night was not restful at all, waking up quite a few times to check the clock to make sure that I hadn’t overslept and also to make sure that my alarm was set. The anxiety also caused me to dream about upcoming my day, in which everything was unravelling in a way that was so wrong. First, my train was cancelled which caused me to be late for my own presentation. A few minutes into the session, I realized that I had left my notes at my desk, which was a two-minute run – which of course was a slow and excruciating one because it was a dream – away from the boardroom. Returning to the boardroom, I realized that the notes I grabbed from my desk were the wrong ones, which meant that I had to do that run back to my desk with my leaden legs. By the time I returned with the proper notes, we had run out of time, and my partner pointed out to me that I had failed to put an important portion of the presentation in the slide show.

It was one of those dreams that was so ridiculous but felt very real, complete with disapproving remarks and looks from management and colleagues.

What did I discover about myself today? It’s not that I have fear of public speaking — I don’t think that’s what my problem is. I think that I speak well in public, if I’m prepared and I’m confident in my material. And that’s just it. It’s the fear of being unprepared, or forgetting/missing something, that paralyzes me. What’s worse is being perceived by the audience as being unprepared. Even thinking about what I would do if someone asked me a question to which I didn’t know the answer gives me those bad butterflies.

In real life, our session ended up being a success this morning — we got lots of positive feedback and everyone seemed genuinely interested in what we were discussing. Nothing went wrong — in fact, my train arrived 2 minutes ahead of schedule, which allowed me to stop at a coffee shop and treat myself to a latté. I arrived nearly a half hour in advance of the meeting time, which gave me plenty of time to set up, review my notes and take a few deep breaths.

I really had nothing to worry about, but I’m suspecting that this experience still won’t make it any easier the next time it’s my turn to lead the session.

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When I Grow Up

10 Mar

When I was young, I looked to grown-ups as big people who had jobs and owned stuff like houses and cars and had it all together. They knew stuff. Lots of it. And they always had cash in their wallets. They had jobs to go to and wore dry-cleaned, freshly-pressed clothes, and the ladies wore heels that made grown-up clicking noises on the floor. They were husbands and wives. Moms and Dads. Grown-ups that I looked up to, and who had me believing that someday when I grew up myself, my life would look like that too. I would know lots of things, always have cash in my wallet to buy stuff like Brussels sprouts from the grocery store and clickety heel shoes for work and gum for my purse. I would have a few credit cards stored in the slots of my wallet for the more expensive buys like jewellery and coats and televisions. I would have a husband and some children too.

I would have a house filled with furniture and pots and pans and plants. I would cook all the time, and my fridge would always be full of food and my cupboards full of snacks. I would have the time to do everything that I wanted. I would have fun on the weekends and go on vacations and read books and drink big glasses of red wine and have martinis with my friends. I would have a job that was easy to do because I would be an expert at whatever it was I ended up doing. I would be self-sufficient and intelligent and mature. I would not be unsure of anything.

There is a little bit of a gap between that, and what I am now as a 30-something grown-up.

I don’t always have cash in my wallet, and I have limited myself to 1 credit card. This is so that I can control my money and budget. And while I wear heels at work, I will get out of them and wear flats at my first opportunity because I value my comfort. I stay away from clothes that are dry-clean only, and I will avoid wearing anything that needs to be ironed because I just don’t have the proper time to maintain items like this. I’m always in a hurry to get somewhere because I am constantly running out of time. I have a house, wherein which some rooms don’t have proper furniture and mismatched pots and pans line my cupboards. It’s also where plants come to die. I am cooking all the time, and while I enjoy doing this, the main motivating factor for this is the money we save by not eating out so much and by brown-bagging our lunches. I don’t have a husband. I don’t have children. I have a job that’s not exactly easy to do, and while I’m good at what I do, I’m far from being an expert. I am unsure of many things.

I guess this is what it means to be an adult, to understand that we are always in a state of growing. That there are always things to be learned, that I will not ever have all the answers. That it’s ok that it’s not perfect. I thought adulthood would erase struggles; it didn’t, we just have different ones. Are we all doing what we thought we would be when we grew up? After a few years of trying different things, I have found a career that fits me. For now. But if you ask me where I think I want to be in five years, I wouldn’t have a good answer for you because I really don’t know. A little bit more grown-up, I suppose. A little less afraid of failing. Learning more about what is important to me. Being sure of the relationships that are meaningful to me. And not so secretly wishing that I had more of that cash in my wallet.

*Image from weheartit.com

Home Was Not Built in a Day

19 Feb

It’s our 1-year anniversary in this house together.

A year since we took that plunge into cohabitation.

One year since we walked through that front door with big plans on how we were going to make this small-ish space our home.

It’s hard to believe that this much time has passed, because I feel like I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as  I had set out to do. Was I naively ambitious? Probably. Or did I just lack motivation? I hope not. Since we moved in, it feels like not much has really changed. The carpet we wanted to tear out and replace with hardwood is still here. And while the house came complete with California shutters on our upper level and side windows, our front and back doors still remain without window coverings. We haven’t yet gotten around to painting any other walls besides those of our kitchen. And while we’re in the kitchen, we’d talked endlessly about building a banquette bench in the recessed wall for our table. As of this minute, it still is just a wall. The tufted fabric headboard I wanted to make for our bed still lives in my head as a plan I want to execute next week…or the week after that…or the next long weekend we have.

By now, I thought that things would be different.

When people ask me how the house is, my response usually is, “It’s coming along,” even after a year, it is still coming along. We are building our home s-l-o-w-l-y, and I’ve learned that I have to exercise patience, something that is not at the top of my list of traits. It’s a struggle for me just to deal with the day-to-day stuff – the finances, the meal planning and cooking, the cleaning, the job – and after I’ve done all that stuff, I need to find time for other important stuff like Lost, The Bachelor and Glee. How in the world do I fit in headboard building?

For now, I am content and satisfied because we’ve created a comfortable home for ourselves with as much as we have. And while I wish that I had more better looking things to make my house all charming and pretty-like, I know that I need the proper time to devote to it. We may not have a proper coffee table, or real furniture in our spare bedrooms, but this is the space that we enjoy coming back to every day. And I suppose that should be what is important, and what I should remember to appreciate each day. It’s all the little things that make this modest little space our modest little space.

Curling our toes in this carpet.

Leisurely Sunday morning breakfasts.

Taco parties with friends.

Sleeping next to him in our headboard-less bed.

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