Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday's Miracle Worker

I took yesterday off to go to a pool party, but am back with yet another miracle worker. This time it's going to be a little strange -- I can't remember the person's name. How horrible, right? This person helped me to the point of changing my life, and I can't even remember his name.

Anyway ....

The person who I want to acknolwedge was my Speech Comm professor at Penn State. The only reason I took the class was because it was required, and I had put it off as long as humanly possible. I even took it over the summer so the class would hopefully be small (which it wasn't) -- I knew I was gonna have to stand up and talk in front of the class, which absolutely terrified me.

When I got to the class, I learned that not only would I have to stand up and talk to the class, but I'd have to do it every single class period. Each class alternated planned and impromptu speeches. ACK!!!!! Seriously, I wanted to drop out right then and there. But I didn't.

Now some of you who know me are probably surprised by this -- you know I'm not exactly shy. Or mousy. Or afraid to tell you my opinion. Or nervous about speaking up.

For the first 12 years of my education, I NEVER said one word in my classes. I always felt like the dumbest kid in the room, and was terrified of saying something stupid or giving a wrong answer. I have no idea why ... I was never publicly flogged for being an idiot or anything, but the idea of talking in class was incredibly intimidating to me. I never raised my hand, never volunteered to solve a problem on the board, never sat in the front half or back row of the room -- blending and becoming invisible were key.

But I could no longer hide once I got to Mr. ?'s Speech Comm class.

It may sound ridiculous, but I really do believe this teacher's course changed the course of my life. The turning point was during my "visual aids" speech about the Top 10 Kinds of Feet That Gross Me Out, where I had drawn pictures and did a Letterman-esque countdown. I had the class rolling with laughter. For me, it was cathartic. In fact, I don't think I've shut up since then!!

I'm convinced that if I hadn't taken that class ... if I hadn't given a funny speech about gross feet .... I could never have been so successful in my career. I went on to teach training classes in one of my first jobs -- a job standing up talking in front of a room of people!! I NEVER could have done that job without that class. I doubt I would have gone on to hold a leadership position in my company -- I talk in front of people all the time now and it doesn't even phase me.

Knowing how my first 17 years were, I think this teacher performed a miracle on me. Now I can't shut up, and you all have him to thank!!

4 comments:

Los said...

I had trouble speaking in front of people for a long time ... two of my jobs "forced" me to have to speak in front of people - my job at the Leukemia Society, and Penn State Delaware County ... now, I don't mind doing it - in fact, I actually like it.

schue said...

Yeah - Seriously, babs. If there's a microphone around, it's tough to get it out of your hands! HAHAHAHA!

Sandi said...

I definately met you after that class.

Your sister said...

Hmmm...I've known you 37 years and I can't ever remember you being at a loss for words :) Love the blog!!