For as long as I can remember I have been absolutely terrified of speaking in front of people. One could say that at times, I have a minor case of social anxiety but really I just don’t like all eyes on me.
When I was in junior high and high school I’d about have a panic attack any time I had to give a presentation. My face would turn beet red, my palms would get sticky and my heart would beat so hard I could have sworn my peers could hear it from the back of the classroom. I would go to bed on the eve of a presentation praying I’d wake with the flu. When that didn’t happen I would lie in bed that morning and try to think of any way I could get out of standing up in front of 20 plus some bodies and talk.
So I naturally found it ironic when in college my graduation depended on a final 20-30 minute presentation on anything of our choice. One of the reasons I believe I always hated speaking in front of people was that I was afraid I would come across as not really knowing what I was talking about. I’d have to be so unbelievable prepared and prepped and if I was caught off guard, I was doomed.
I decided to do my final presentation on something personal for a couple of reasons. First, it was incredibly important for me to share my family’s story dealing with cancer in the hopes that maybe, just maybe I’d help one person. And second, well, it was MY story so it was a guarantee that it would be something I could discuss for hours. I felt it was necessary to tell people about it because I knew that eventually I’d reach someone who was needing to hear my words. And all to often, I did.
When presentation day came I was filled with the same old nerves but there was a bit of excitement there too. Two of us were presenting that day, I was second. When it was my turn to head up to the podium I reminded myself of why I was sharing my story. If I only reached one person then that was one more person who understood the importance of knowing your family history and taking your health into your own hands. And that was good enough for me.
For the past couple of years, on and off through life’s various changes, I have been working on m 200 hour teacher training. Yoga really took a lasting place in my heart about four years ago when I decided to try a class at my gym. I’ve always been a huge ‘working out’ person. The more intense the better such as spin classes, lifting weights, running, swimming, etc. Coming to yoga was a way for me to try to repair some of the damage I had done to my body all those years of trying to be ‘small and fit’.
I remember walking into my first class somewhat intimidated and afraid that I wouldn’t bend like a pretzel. All those years in gymnastics as a child didn’t actually leave me very flexible. I was scared I would be ‘terrible’ at yoga. My teacher was a young girl and I remember she was so kind and inviting. We began our practice and from then I was hooked. Not in the obsessive way I was with ‘working out’ but there was something about the way I felt when I left my first class that was, for lack of a better word, life changing.
I went to my second class unaware of what I was about to do. I walked in, same teacher was getting the music for the class set up at the front of the room. I sat down on my mat and after a few minutes she walked over to me and introduced herself. The first thing out of my mouth (after introducing myself) was, ‘Where did you do your teacher training?’ A little surprised by myself, she continued to tell me all about her teacher training and after class I went home and jumped on the computer to research Whole Life Yoga.
A month later I was sitting in my very first teacher training class. The training was suppose to be 10 months long but with two big moves, one out of country and one to another state, in July of 2012 I got my 200 hour Viniyoga teacher training certificate and it was finally a reality.
And that is when the fear really set in. All throughout my training I went back and forth with whether or not I was going to teach. Part of me wanted to do the training to learn more about myself and yoga and the other part of me couldn’t see myself not sharing this wonderful life changing practice with others. The one thing holding me back was the fear of having to be in front of people.
I was terrified of others thinking I wasn’t a good teacher or no one coming to my class. I was terrified that others would see through me and realize that I’m not perfect, that I’m flawed and human and that scared me most of all. I hated the idea of people seeing that I wasn’t always bubbly or naturally sunny-side-up. That I have bad days, that I get upset and defensive, and even worse, that I can be very reactive. But the universe has a funny way of just making things happen and all the stars aligned and as scared as I was, I began teaching two weeks ago at a studio called 4 Elements.
My first class was amazing. Not because I was the perfect teacher or because miraculously I wasn’t scared but because like my presentation in college, I was standing in front of people with the desire to help, to give them something that hopefully makes positive changes in their personal lives. I wasn’t about me at all. Well, maybe a little because it made me feel so happy and fulfilled but mostly, it was about them and their experience and I loved that.
I drove home that night already excited for my next class a few days later and all the fear I felt for months about teaching was gone and instead, was replaced with hope. I thought about how often fear holds us back but also how sometimes that fear could also be our inner voice telling us we just aren’t ready yet. It’s about knowing when to listen and knowing when to ignore that voice. That’s the delicate dance we all have to learn.
If you live in the Yamhill county area (Newberg, Dundee, McMinnville, etc) I teach at 4 Elements on Thursday evening at 7pm and every other Wednesday at 7pm.