I’ve found it an interesting contrast, how I like the distance and careful thought of a well written email or post, but also consider myself reasonably good on my feet and reacting in the right situation. But at the same time, I’m an incredibly self conscious person- I need to push myself to meet people, or at work to initiate and continue contacts with customers.
One of my favorite scenes in Firefly- one that describes this struggle well for me- was in the episode “The Message”. I’ll try and describe the scene.
Kaylee, the engineer is in the engine room, listening to a recording- essentially, the last words of someone whose body they’re transporting. We see her, lying in a hammock (yes, there’s a hammock in the engine room, for whatever reason), and we hear the voice in the recording.
Down the corridor, Simon approaches. He said something really dumb to her earlier in the episode, and is clearly looking to make amends. His walk is tentative, his expression uncertain, remorseful.
We watch him approach the engine room, with both of them in the picture- he stops outside the door, hearing the recording. He leans, about to cross the precipice, mouth open as if he is about to speak, as Kaylee is still raptly listening to the voice in the recording.
But he DOESN’T. After a moment, he pulls back, and walks away, as we continue to hear the recording. She never sees him, and he doesn’t speak to her until later on.
I loved that scene, because it demonstrated how self-conscious Simon is, and it resonated with my own struggles in that. In Simon’s case, maybe he would have thought about how it might go, what he might say, how she might respond. And then, hearing the voice- someone else’s voice, already speaking to her- it threw him off his plan. It might have cracked his courage, made him retreat, not just physically but emotionally as well.
For someone who thinks a lot, interacting can be that way- something we need to control, something that almost works better when we DON’T think about it.
As for me, getting comfortable in front of people, and with myself, has been a continual process over the last several years. Some parts preparation, some parts self esteem, and a few more parts I haven’t quite pinned down yet. But not too much of one or the other- if I’m over-prepared, I dwell on it, and if I’m not prepared, I’ll be caught flat footed.
For weddings, anything I’m hosting, appointments I have during the day at work, I prepare as much as I can. I know what I’m dealing with coming in, I try and anticipate possible problems, and try and know the playbook. As I’m training at work- and as I was learning my craft as an MC- I came to realize that I won’t always HAVE all the answers or knowledge. There really is no substitute for experience, and getting comfortable doing different things.
And knowing that sometimes, you’ll get tossed outside your carefully crafted plan, and into a situation you weren’t prepared for. The first time I MCed a wedding reception, the mike cut out about ten seconds in. I was terrified.
I don’t remember if I took a moment to collect myself, but we pushed on. And I was better for it. When you develop that instinct, that quickness that lets you NOT overthink things, and push on in the heat of the moment, it makes you a better person.
Recurring theme? Absolutely. Courage, not fear.