One of my greatest fears was public speaking.
I can still remember my first public speaking competition back in the 4th grade here in the Philippines. I’m not sure why my teacher entered me into this speech contest. I think they call it declamation.
I froze. I forgot my lines. I still came in 5th place.
Then I moved to the United States right after that. I didn’t speak English well. And when I finally learned to converse in English, I was made fun of because of my immigrant accent.
If you had Filipino accent, the local born kids would make fun of you for being different. Yeah, you couldn’t be part of the cool kids’ club.
I was always conscious about speaking English for fear that someone would make fun of me. In secret, I practiced.
I watched a lot of television. I listened and repeated the words. I read books. I read and read.
At the end of the 8th grade, I mustered enough courage to audition for our high school’s drama club and theater group. Surprisingly, I made it, and this would be the catalyst to my public speaking career.
I became more confident. I won first place in a dramatic festival. I became class president. I joined the debate team. I did more theater. I became honor society president.
In college, I became a writing consultant, a debater. I became an impromptu speaking champion of a major debate and forensics tournament. I became the commencement speaker of my class.
After college, I became a branch manager, staffing manager, and sales and marketing director. These jobs entailed a lot of public speaking as I had to do a lot of training and business to business sales and marketing.
I moved back to the Philippines. Don’t ask me why. It must have been more fun in the Philippines. Yeah, that’s it. I co-founded an English school. I have done classroom training, corporate training, university training, private training, and train the trainer.
So if you were to ask me, do I still fear public speaking? Not anymore, although my heart always palpitates a few seconds before my presentations.
When people ask me, could I really become a good public speaker? Can I really improve my English to your level?
YES and NO. Yes, if you are willing to put in the effort. Massive action. NO, if you are just taking a class here and there.
YES, if you decide if this is going to be the one thing that will take you to your dreams.
NO, if you decide you are just going to try it.
I live in QC now, and I have so much more to learn about English and public speaking.
I’m at that stage again where I am having so many fears starting anew with other adventures. But if I did it in English and public speaking, I’m sure I could do it again in another industry.
I just have to.
To all the people who are doubting themselves, keep telling yourself you can. Eventually, that belief in yourself turns into something way more than you had expected.