Comfort Zones

Seems like last year that I proclaimed, “hey folks, I’m gonna write more!!! gonna use my little writey brain and jot down my little writey thoughts about all the things a writey little writer can write about.” So funny story, I’m a liar. Yep, just straight-up lied for funsies – broke every branch on the tree of trust we’d been growing together for years. Thankfully, you’re the bigger person and you came back despite the betrayal. Go you!!

Writing is my comfort zone. I feel fairly comfortable spinning up a tale when I have a tale to tell. I’m solid at taking anecdotes and stretching them into stories. A Rumplestiltskin of words. Now, please note, I’m not assigning an adjective to the types of stories I tell – I’m not saying they’re good, or bad, or even middling – they’re just “stories”. As my reader, you can fill in the adjective, and I’m reckoning that if you’ve returned here again, the ones you have chosen are more on the positive side. I need to believe that you’re not actually a masochist, doing some karmic penance, or just here to witness another train wreck while you snack on popcorn.

I believe in you!

Well, this week I did something wholly out of my comfort zone, but I’m proud of it, soooo humble-not-so-humble brag incoming.

Please avert your eyes if you hate a humblebrag. You’ve been warned!

On Monday, I gave my first in-person presentation to a room full of people. First, let me lay some groundwork. I don’t present. Ever. It’s not something I’ve done. It’s not something in my toolbelt of skills. Me standing in front of a group of people and talking is actually a special level of Hell accurately described by Dante in his Inferno, where he accurately predicted a sass-filled Texan would ultimately land amid piles of Post-it easel pads that’d lost their stickiness, failing laser pointers, broken overhead projectors, milky transparencies, and an audience of demons who stare in silence as she stuttered, stammered, oh’ed, uh’ed, and cleared her throat through an uncomfortable rambling and, of course, eternal presentation. Dante was more than just an Italian poet; he was a prophet. Step back, Nostradamus.

At least this is what my pet demon likes to whisper along with, “Hey kid, let’s say that when you face plant later we go drown our sorrows in some ice cream? Jenn won’t mind. She’ll support your poor decisions after embarrassing yourself.” While the more angelic and supportive side hops in with, “ok, but hear me out now – what if you not only succeed, you actually crush it, and there are high fives?? THEN you could celebrate with victory ice cream. Jenn won’t mind!” (Jenn, I promise to work hard on this part of me when I return from vacation. Pinky swear.) So, I worked on imagining myself succeeding. It seemed like a better way to spend my energy. What would that look and feel like? I also acknowledged that if I had a case of the nerves, it would be ok; it was only 30 minutes out of the day. I can survive most things for 30 minutes.

So, I got up in front of the room and stepped away from the mic, because I can project like a champ (ask anyone who’s sat in a small room with me and had to remind me, “you’re right across the table from me, not across a stadium, Beth – I can hear you.”) I started talking and kept talking, running through the slides. I didn’t falter. I just peeked into that skill toolbelt and found helpful tips from friends and a few from improv.

I won’t bore you with specifics, but those tips/tricks were there when I needed them, and it turns out they’d been in there for a while. Who knew?

After the Q&A at the end, I realized I’d done it. I’d presented to a room full of folks. I hadn’t face planted! (Jenn – I also didn’t get ice cream. Baby steps? So, props to me??)

Then a more magical thing took place: several folks came up to me and thanked me for making IT (the subject I presented on) “fun,” and one woman actually apologized saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that when I asked you for directions to the conference room that you were famous.” (I’m not gonna lie – that may have been my favorite bit of praise. Oh, and for the record, I’m so not famous.)

Anyway, to wrap it up, it really felt great! I just wanted to share a story about stepping out of my comfort zone as a way to break the months’ long silence on the blog – my actual comfort zone. Bonus, I got to chat again to y’all.

So, thank you for still sticking around. I won’t promise to write more, but you never know.

6 thoughts on “Comfort Zones

  1. Always proud of you…but you know now you will be “presenter of choice” and TED talks will be calling!

  2. Well that was fun.
    (Both post and your experience.)
    Always suspected it was true we were our own worst enemy….and people are conditioned somewhere along the way from childhood to adulthood to be afraid of crashing and burning in front of an audience – even if speaking about a topic you are well grounded in.
    Congrats on discovering yourself ( and letting other people see and applaud)
    Apparently improv – especially humorous improv – works as training for speaking engagements and leading countries (but If I hear you are running for office…..)
    Cheers and onward
    (and actually glad not so many posts have been posted …it makes me feel way less guilty about not reading or commenting as much HAHA)

    • Beth says:

      One of my favorite exercises from Improv was taking a “fail bow”. It was a recognition that everyone would get tongue tied at times, and when they did they’d yell loudly (and proudly) to the other improvisers “I FAILED!” As a classmate, when you heard this, you were supposed to whoop loudly and applaud your fellow classmate. It allowed us all to be ok with failing, and really to embrace it. I wish we could all do that – just own it, examine it for a brief second, let it go, take a bow and move forward.

      If I run for office, I hope the entire kingdom will cheer me on, and I’ll be seeking the elusive RC endorsement and maybe a RD paw print of approval.

      I’ve been terrible about posting and reading, so no judgment here ever. I typically play on my home computer, but after so much telework, I find I’m on my computer for personal things much less – thus writing, and reading are at an all time low, and we won’t even talk about about ‘rithmetic. 🙂

      Hope you’re doing great!!! I was in the Houston area about 6 weeks ago and sent positives waves of energy, hellos, and genuflects to the kingdom.

  3. Nancy says:

    I am fairly certain I watched you step up to the podium in front of the Texas State capitol and address that crowd like a boss! Good on you for nailing it again.

    • Beth says:

      I love that memory; however, I didn’t actually speak that day. I held a sign while someone read my brief statement. Still, I’d love to think I could do that at the capitol and have fantasies where I do that. 🙂

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