When I had my bridal shower back in the day when marrying a man seemed like a good idea, I was supposed to stand up at the end and say a few words.
I’m not very good at speaking in front of groups of people. Even in front of people I know.
As I sat on a chair in the center of the room in my floral dress from The Limited and started stammering, I was rescued by my best friend.
“Kick-off is in 30 minutes. We have to go she said.”
It was a perk that came with being alumni of a university with a dominating football program.
It’s been our running gag every time I am nervous about speaking in front of a group of people or trying to get out of an uncomfortable situation.
“Can’t you come and tell them kick-off is in 30 minutes?” I ask.
Even when it’s not football season.
Last week, I called my friend and told her that because of my book I have an opportunity to speak at a large, multinational company that has an office near my house. The company has an LGBT group and often has speakers come in.
She tells me to go for it.
“But you know me and public speaking,” I say.
“Maybe it’s time to stop telling yourself the story that you’re not good at public speaking,” she says.
She’s a terrible friend. The worst, really.
After I get off the phone with her, I think about the power of story. The stories we tell ourselves. The stories we tell others.
Then I stumble across this quote about storytelling:
“Being a storyteller is about helping other people tell their stories.”
I know my presentation will address the power of story. That’s my passion.
In my head, I am mapping out how it will go.
I am working on a new story about going to the company that first time for a meeting. I am unsure about what to wear. I am afraid about being judged for being a woman wearing men’s clothes in a corporate work environment. About looking like a little girl who just raided her dad’s closet.
I sit on the edge of my bed and remind myself to be me.
It will be ok, I tell myself. Stand tall. Be strong. Be butch. Be yourself.
It’s a pep talk.
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What are the stories (good and bad) you tell yourself?