I taught my second class on public speaking last week. I tweeted about it and mentioned it on my facebook but I rarely brought it up in the real ‘offline’ world. I know I should just get over myself but, despite all my chat of being entirely comfortable with my speech, I still feel awkward telling people that I teach public speaking.
As a general rule, most people who do hear about it are fiercely supportive. Betraying none of the skepticism that I assume they quietly harbor.
And yet there are some people who openly frown when I tell them, whose face seems to question if I realize that I stutter. They ask me what will happen if I block on every word? They prod and poke…am I not nervous? I answer them honestly…yes. I’m petrified. I call my sanity in to question hours before each class begins.
However, my nerves do make me relate to my students…perhaps more deeply than is convenient. I understand any fears that they might have. I have walked in their shoes.
Ultimately, I believe that nerves are normal for all of us. Once the moment comes and we do get up there to speak, it is never as terrifying as we had dreamed up. In fact it is oddly wonderful.
As much as I kvetch about the class beforehand, once I am there, looking at their faces, I realize that my fears are ungrounded. That I love teaching. I love sharing ideas and potentially helping others. I love speaking and stuttering and not worrying about being perfect. I love feeling that I am making an audible mark, however small, in the world.
More than that, I love the people I meet. I love the fact that working with Skillshare intimately ties me into the pulsing heart of the New York startup scene. The students in my class are uniformly impressive. They are entrepreneurs and app creators and management consultants and teachers. They are young and ambitious and looking to improve.
The New York startup scene, particularly the tech scene, has a momentum in the city that can sweep you up. Most of the people are working for startups or creating them. It is intimidating and supportive all at once. There’s a network to tap into, a creative flow of ideas.
However much fear I feel in the days running up to the class, it is worth it. More than worth it. It is my lifeline to the city and an introduction to strangers I would never otherwise meet.