The first time I tried to talk about the idea of my book was in January 2015. I felt like I failed that talk so badly I started putting labels of “You’re not a public speaker” “You really should’ve prepared more” “Mama shouldn’t be there” on myself. Then I talked about it again, before it was published, to an audience in April 2017. I told myself, “You should be prepared now, right? Do better now!” And I brought home the thought that I didn’t again. I really wondered if I wasn’t meant to speak in public at all.

That was funny, you know? Because part of my freelance job requires me to stand up and talk. Why did it make a difference when I began talking about my book?

Then I was invited to a Toastmasters Club meeting. I’ve heard about Toastmasters and have watched several videos of it but not to the point of detail, of knowing what’s what. I had been pushed to the front to answer one of their questions and I did, not knowing I was actually being graded based on how many “Uh” I said, my body movements, etc. I just talked just as I would’ve with a friend, but this time in front of stranger audience.

Surprisingly, I was actually graded not bad. The guy announced that I had equal eye contact w everyone in the room (which was a good thing), my body language was confident, and my hand gestures were enough it’s appropriate. Gee, who knew Toastmasters watched every single move? My wrongs were that I hesitated as in I said “Uhhh” three times (which I don’t really beat myself about, since it makes me sound natural) and that I should use language easy to understand (guy next to me whispered “I think you were fine!”).

I was not surprised I knew how to have eye contact and all that. Once at a social setting someone asked if I went to dinner events often because I seemed like a natural social person. People also usually listen to the stories I tell them, not out of politeness but out of interest, as I can see they too get emotionally involved in my stories.

So when I was scored like that at that Toastmasters thing, I was not surprised. After that, I talked a bit about my book, and a man came up to me after that to tell me he “misses this side of things.” He told me to treat him to coffee because I owed him RM2 from my book sale and he took my number.

THEN the strange thoughts came washing down to me again. Oh my gosh, I really am nobody qualified to be talking about these things! I started having internal panic attacks. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.

These were the same thoughts I had about myself when I wanted to introduce my concept of book in January 2015 and in April 2017.

I think if I had known that I was going to be judged at that Toastmasters thing, I would’ve performed worse. Right? I did okay because I thought it was a casual setting of just talking. On other occasions I stood in front as somebody who’s supposed to know what she’s talking about. It’s not that I don’t. It’s that my thought clouded my vision and made me…overthink things.

Don’t you find that you perform your best when your mind is clear?

I’m interested in talking to the people in prisons. <——-a random thought I had this evening.

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