I did something new today. I submitted a 250-word abstract for one of my papers to an academic forum. If it’s accepted, I will be flying to Michigan in February to speak on comic books in front of a bunch of comic fans and English scholars. In some ways, this will be a very good experience. I’ve never done anything like this before, and this particular forum will be small-scale, compared to other conferences. It will be a fantastic learning experience. On the other hand, I am super terrified of even the idea of presenting one of my papers before an actual audience.
I gave a presentation today in one of my classes. I filled my Powerpoint with puns and jokes, which fell completely flat. I should have expected it. They were really stupid jokes. But to not even get a pity laugh? That’s just sad… I don’t have any jokes in my paper, but what if my claims and evidence fall on deaf ears? What if they look at me as if I’ve completely misinterpreted the text? What if I fly 700 miles to be laughed out of a room?
A few months ago I wrote about trying new things and “trials by fires.” I meant that, which is why I submitted my abstract. I’m terrified, but I’m ready to give it a shot. If I fall flat, I’ll learn what I can from it. I don’t expect it to go off perfectly. I know myself better than that. I expect I’ll fill my reading with a bunch of ‘Ums.’ I doubt I’ll make nearly enough eye contact. When the questions start, I can guarantee my mind will go blank.
Right now, I’m just hoping it goes at least “okay.”
I guess I’ve always been a little scared of public speaking. Actually, scratch that. I’m absolutely, horrible scared TO DEATH of public speaking. It shouldn’t be too surprising. I’m a socially-awkward video game/comic/science-fiction geek. I spend my free time reading. When someone calls me on the phone, I respond in single syllable words until the other person gets tired of trying and hangs up. That’s how I deal with other people, and it’s worked fine for me so far.
I think it’s time to overcome my crippling social-anxiety. I look at my brother and my dad and I’m amazed at how they can walk into a room and control it. They capture the attention of everyone there. I’ve never been like that. I hang out on the edges of the room and silently watch, hoping no one engages me in any way. I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want to be scared of people.
Is that something you can shut off?
I’ve thought about looking into some medication. My mom is very similar, and some anti-anxiety meds have done wonders for her. Maybe it can help me? Maybe I just need to get over myself and affect that change myself. I don’t know. I need a drink…