Last week, when I was busy not posting my blog on time, I was preparing to give two presentations at a business conference. One of them was a co-presentation, and one a solo. I think I managed to keep myself from thinking about the fact that I was presenting at a national - no, international - conference before I finished. It's only since I've been back home that the reality of having spoken in such a context is really sinking in.
I mean, my sessions were not well attended. 20 to 40 people, crammed into a small room, all staring at me. But the sessions were also recorded, so unknown numbers of people in the future could also access my presentation and listen to my words. And I knew this, beforehand, but I refused to think about it. A form of self-preservation took over and prevented my mind from wondering into the future possibilities stemming from the presentations.
I knew that if I thought about it that way, I'd freak out.
Not that I didn't freak out, a little bit. Just getting up and setting myself up as a knowledgeable expert in front of people was hard enough. Standing there, talking and pulling confidence around myself like a cloak, a fragile one, ready to tear at the slightest hint of attack.
I spoke more at that conference, not just in my presentations but elsewhere, than I have in any previous conference for sure. Maybe more than I've spoken in the month leading up to it as well. I don't get out into social situations very often anymore. I've found my comfort zone of solitude and wilderness.
And it takes reflection on the magnitude of what I actually did, presenting at a conference with participants from over 30 countries (even if not all of them watched me in particular), to remind me that even if I feel more comfortable not being social, not putting myself and my knowledge out where others can hear them, that doesn't mean that I can't.