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"Weed Out Class"

I was a speaker at an event the other day, and I remember preparing for the speech for about 5 minutes the night before the event, and while preparing, my mind drifted back to when I experienced my first public speech.  If it wasn't for a Freshman class requirement, I may not have ever gotten over my fear of Public Speaking. 

After I got through one of my first Freshman classes in college, it seemed as though my entire life turned around.  The class was called, "Public Speaking" and it was a required class.  Contrary to what I expected would be a true "weed out" class, intended especially to weed out a shy, and introverted freshman, like I was, it turned out to be a truly unforgettable experience. 

In High School, I was extremely bashful, and exquisitely quiet.  I remember struggling with myself, wanting to answer a question one of my high school teachers had asked, but not wanting my answer to be wrong.  I was too afraid of what everyone else would think if my answer turned out to be silly, or if I used a wrong word without realizing it.  I created a fear deep inside  which increased each time I didn't raise my hand, or participate in class; a fear which stayed to haunt me throughout my high school years. 

When I learned that I had to take a "Public Speaking" class during my first semester in college, I was devastated.  I hated to speak during class, much less to speak in front of a class, where every one's attention would be directed toward me.  I got sweaty palms just thinking about the name of the course. 

Finally, the dreaded day came when I had to give my first speech.  My heart was pounding and racing while I was quietly sitting in class waiting for the speech before mine to get over.  I was hardly listening when the teacher called out my name.  My mind was reeling with thoughts of how my speech would turn out.  I was afraid that I would stutter, or for get to say something, or even worse, I would just completely blank out.  And what would the class think of me?
I looked at my class mates when I got to the front of the class.  I then looked toward my teacher, who nodded his assent for me to begin.  Then I took a deep breath, looked out toward my select audience, and began my endless monologue.  I remember shaking while I uttered my first words, and then a feeling of complete numbness washing over me.  I don't even remember much of what I said, but to my relief, I didn't leave out too many things, and I didn't stutter or blank out.  I just felt so at peach with myself when I finally sat down.  I could barely hear my heart beating and I wasn't afraid any more.  I was just...numb!  ... and relieved!  I made it and it was over.  I survived and actually felt a little better.

When I walked up to do my second and my third speeches in that Public Speaking class, I was still afraid, but my fear had transformed itself into apprehension.  I no longer dreaded speaking.  I was not afraid of what people would think; I just hoped that I wouldn't make a mistake and let myself down.  I started striving to do my best to make Me happy and I only got a few jitters just before my speech, but as the speech went along, I gained more and more confidence in myself. 

As my confidence grew, so did my outlook on life.  I no longer felt shy to ask a question in class, or when I made a mistake, or did something  wrong.  I new that if I did make a mistake, it was not the end of the world; in fact, I would learn something new from each one of my mistakes.  I became a stronger person from within, and I managed to emanate that to everyone around me.  I took advantage of my new found courage, and I joined several clubs in my University, as well as the Volleyball intramural.  I declared myself captain, and I formed a team of my own, and we even won second place. 

Looking back, I can hardly believe how far I have come.  From the shy, introverted person afraid to do almost anything and everything, I had come to feel so at peace with myself.  It is like an enlightenment of a sort.  I felt strong from inside and I think that after living 18 years of my life, I finally realized who I was and the potential that I had. 

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