When I went to college one of the general education requirements for graduation was to complete Basic Oral Communication 101, aka a Public Speaking class. I had spent most of my teen years doing anything and everything I could to avoid having any kind of attention on myself, so needless speaking in front of a room full of strangers was not high on my list. The very first day of BOC 101 a paper was handed out that offered an alternative class. It was created just for those of us who were not comfortable with idea of being stared at while giving a speech to our fellow classmates. This special class would employ several stress management and anxiety reduction techniques we could use to aid us with becoming comfortable with speaking in public. I jumped on the opportunity to switch to this more user-friendly class, hopeful that this one wouldn’t cause me to vomit in front of the entire class.
The class was an assortment of all kinds of personality types – jocks, frat boys, braniacs, hippies, you name it and we were all in there together. We met once a week like some secret society, an AA group for those of us that freaked at the idea of being in the spotlight in the classroom. I don’t know why but I had always felt this panic with attention. You know when the teacher calls on you in front of the class? My cheeks would always flame bright red, my palms would sweat and I wished I could disappear into the chair. It was just was a physiological reaction and I hated it. We did learn some great techniques for breathing, how to slow down our heart rate, things to bring calm to our panicked bodies and minds. Luckily, being a Finance major, I could comfortably crunch numbers for most of my classes, except for one. This professor made us read articles and summarize them in a short speech to the entire class. I hated him. This was now my junior year so I should have been more comfortable but I was still plagued with a sense of dread. I would actually resort to taking a quick shot of southern comfort right before class. The alcohol was the only thing that would stop my physical shaking and knee knocking that would involuntarily take over my entire body. Thankfully it was a Monday evening class so I was able to avoid the complete shame of drinking at 9am. Although it is 10 am as I write this and Kathie-Lee and Hoda are drinking right now and seem to be having a fabulous time.
There were coping strategies and techniques but only time seemed to make me more comfortable with that “all eyes and ears on me” feeling. Reaching my 30’s and having multiple public meltdowns with my children, I had thought I was long past any type of fear of anyone staring at me anymore. I know longer heard Adam Sandler’s voice in my head saying “They’re all gonna laugh at you!”
Or so I thought. My fears were tested this past weekend. A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful new client, Kyra. Kyra had bid on my services at a fundraiser she attended and contacted me to set up the consultation. We set a date to meet and I went to Kyra’s home. She was ready to add some new items to her wardrobe but there was one problem. She was newly expecting, like very, very, very newly. No one knew yet and she wanted to wait to make any announcements. With this in mind we shopped for items that could literally grow with her, incorporating them into her work and her casual wardrobe. She is honestly one of the nicest people I have ever met and sent me this lovely email after our initial consult.
What a wonderful afternoon that was filled with me learning so much from you–and trying all kinds of new ideas in my current closet, as well as finding treasures right in town. You have great energy, such a positive outlook and amazing fashion sense. Although you and I know that I’m slowly gaining weight for a future addition to our family, I’ve had about five co-workers in the past few weeks compliment me not only my new pairings of outfits, but commenting on how I’ve lost weight (!?!). Clearly, your advice about what type of pants I should wear helped me visually lose a few pounds! I never knew that the style of pants I wear could make such a difference. Thank you for this great gift of looking and feeling good (even in pregnancy!) and helping me to throw off the scent of the future news I’ll share.
Kyra has an amazing group of girlfriends and they get together for an annual holiday party. I was beyond honored when she asked me if I could do some one on one consults during the party. I asked that the women bring one item from their wardrobe that they were having troubling styling and I could help them with some suggestions and tips. This would be followed by a 15 minute presentation to the entire group. I was very excited but then fear started to creep in…
What if they don’t like me? What if I ramble? What if I get complete stage fright? What if? What if? What if? The only thing I had going for me was that I was discussing something I passionately love. I loved Kyra and I was sure her friends would be just as wonderfully nice as she has been, but I also wanted to make sure I made it worth their time. The night before I started to panic. I talked to a friend on the phone who had just gotten over one of those 24 hr. vomiting viruses. Then I convinced myself that I too was going to get it and would have to cancel and ruin the party. I even had a nightmare that I showed up to the party wearing Reef flip-flops with my outfit, then ended up at a mall but couldn’t find any shoes and had to go barefoot. Seriously. This was ridiculous.
I arrived to Kyra’s beautiful home and she graciously greeted me with a glass of wine to combat the effects of the triple venti latte I had just drank on the car ride. I seriously need to work on my health habits. Kyra is very organized and she had a beautiful sign-up sheet for her friends to do mini consults with me during the party, with time blocked out for a feature presentation. All of Kyra’s friends were lovely inside and out, and I had a blast doing the mini consults. When it came time for the group presentation I was comfortable because I felt so confident in the information I wanted to share. Although I felt I was sweating profusely I’d like to think I was glowing as I spoke to the women. Did I mess up on some things? Sure. But it was okay. I had an amazing time am definitely adding group presentations to my consulting services.
The very, very, very best part? Kyra, (the lovely lady in the white with the stunning statement necklace, wearing this year’s color of the year – Emerald Green), had devised a most amazing way to reveal her pregnancy to her friends. After taking this fabulous group photo it was her idea that for the next pic that instead of saying “Say Cheese” I would announce “Kyra’s pregnant!”
Here is what happened next!
How wonderful!! I felt so lucky to be a part of such an amazing day and this very special moment.
*Insider Tip –
I shared with the group my number 1 essential item to have in your closet. And guess what? It is not an item of clothing. It is a
This oh-so-simple creation will save you time and money. Leave it right in your closet. Think of it as a grocery list for your wardrobe. When you take off your black sweater because you realize it is just too tight quickly jot down that you need a new black sweater. When you put on that beautiful printed skirt you bought but take it off yet again because you have yet to find the right match for it write that down! Compiling on ongoing list will help to keep your shopping focused and efficient. It will turn the items you have into completed outfits, i.e. have salsa, need to buy chips. Just like compiling a list for a recipe you can compile a list for that outfit or look you think is missing in your wardrobe. Bonus points for taking a picture of that hard to match item and/or copying the list to your smart phone so that it is always with you. When that flash sale comes across your email at lunch you can check your Need list and be prepared. No more buying stuff just to buy, needlessly adding more stuff to what could be an already crowded wardrobe.
*Insider Tip –
The next time you are scared to do something or wear something please go for it. The rewards are much greater than the missed opportunity.