When I stepped onto the red circle to speak at TEDx last month, my heart was racing. Would I remember my talk? Would the content speak to others?
I took a deep breath, remembering I'd already made it through the worst.
As a speaker, I don't dread getting up in front of a hundred people and sharing my story. No, I dread the last vulnerable minutes before I take the stage.
That anxiety is the worst. It's akin to the final, fearsome seconds before a roller-coaster makes its big drop. Even though you know what's coming — even though you were so excited to get on the roller-coaster in the first place! — the moment before the free-fall is terrifying.
So many of us will do anything to avoid that fear, those few plummeting seconds that precede exhilaration. In my TEDx talk, I quote Anne Lamott, who writes that perfectionism “is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die.”
The next time you're scared to open an email, to talk to a teacher, to even face the possibility of making a mistake or getting it wrong, take a deep breath. Remember this is another opportunity to learn and let go. We all have to do things that terrify us in order to grow and live.