This week I brought my daughter and her two besties (she will be so annoyed that I used that word) to work with me. My work for that day was giving three different presentations on bullying to 200 (in each group) grade school students, their teachers, and administrators at a local school. I brought the girls with me because I’m terrified of speaking publicly to children even though I speak publicly for a living. If given the option to give a talk to 1,000 angry adults or 10 average children, I’d take the adults every time hands down. Kids are a tough crowd.
A majority of adults would tell you that they are terrified of speaking in public. There is a phobia named in honor of this fear, glossophobia. I’m not sure if people would really choose death over public speaking but I think some people might find waterboarding to be a more pleasant alternative than the dreaded public speech. So how is it that three 14-year-old girls conquered a fear that most adults will never even attempt?
From my observations, here are the steps that they took and some good lessons for the rest of us:
1) Be prepared.
They planned their approach by first forcing me into a very intimidating question and answer session in which they ascertained exactly what they were walking into. They then started rehearsing and continued to practice and edit until the program began. This was done with outrageous amounts of food of the non-healthy variety and frequent laughing fits.
2) State your fears.
They, without even a hint of shame, admitted to each other and to me that they were really nervous, scared, and anxious about the public speaking adventure. They never belittled each other for being nervous they just accepted this as a normal state of mind when faced with a challenging situation. They didn’t make up excuses as to why they were nervous they just owned it and pushed forward.
3) Try new things with people who love and support you.
The three of them threw out supportive and caring words throughout the whole process, “great job”, “that’s a good idea”, “I like your shirt” etc. The one of them that has always been on the shy side stood proudly between her two friends and when the first question was shot their way she said with complete confidence, “I’ve got this one” and proceeded to belt out an answer that most adults couldn’t do even after they had rehearsed. Later she was wildly praised by her two friends and she glowed from having both tackled the challenge and the support of her friends.
I know that all three walked away from this experience feeling more confident and accomplished. These being skills that they will need when they face a world that tells girls that they should be sexy and skinny but not necessarily strong and smart. Despite being nervous they did it anyway and took the risk of failing, being laughed at, or criticized. Many of the adults that I know would rather use vices or lame excuses instead of trying something scary and risking failure, myself periodically included in that list.
I learned a lot that day too. I learned that by telling them that I trusted them and showing them that trust by allowing them to do their thing, they also believed in themselves. It wasn’t easy for me to step back but I saw how much they wanted to own the experience from start to finish so I took a leap of faith with them and it was so worth the risk for all of us. I also learned that despite the bad press about mean girls and girls not being able to work together in this case at least, that was completely untrue. I learned that young women want to be challenged and to have different life experiences, even scary ones. Experiences that don’t have a thing to do with how they look, boys, weight loss, or not getting along with other girls.
I’ve watched these three girls growing up and I know that they’ve already approached and conquered so many fears, some big and some small with high school being their next big hurdle. I think that our world might be hard for them with outrageous media images and ideals that are harmful for young women. Yet with a lump in my throat I watched these three fairly typical teen-aged girls do something that wasn’t so typical at all and I felt joy and hope for a brilliant future for all of our daughters.
Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC
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Smart Women, Inspired Lives: How to Be Happy & Confident
by Dr. Lisa Kaplin
Do you long for more energy? Do you wish you could walk into any room and feel happy and confident? Do you simply want to enjoy your life more – personally and professionally? You can. Too many women today are doing more, but feeling less satisfied. Life doesn’t have to be that way. With small tweaks and simple strategies, you can enjoy a great life with soaring self-confidence, a good sense of well-being, and plenty of laughter. This easy-to-read yet profoundly impactful book will be all you need to join the tribe of smart women living inspired lives. Your life gets better right now.
About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC
Certified Life Coach and Psychologist at Smart Women Inspired Lives.
I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.
Gain the Confidence You’ve Always Wanted
Are you stuck in a place where you don’t feel good about yourself, feel stuck, and don’t feel happy or fulfilled? Whatever it is that keeps you from happiness can be solved. It’s true! And it can usually be solved within a short amount of time.
Many women have either lost confidence in themselves or realize that they’ve never had it. They are afraid to ask for what they want, they don’t feel good about themselves, and they find that just getting through the day is exhausting.
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