Today, I gain strength and confidence in remembering my time as a co-host on a human rights radio show in Jamaica - the most exciting, yet nerve-racking job I've had thus far.
My weeks were spent researching topics of interest to the disadvantaged Jamaican to empower him/her to recognize and realize his/her rights owed to them by the state, as it concerned civil, economic and cultural rights. I gathered information from clients and made cold calls to local experts to appear on our show; I wrote memos and created talking points with the facts, all culminating in an hour-long show that I produced and engineered.
The first time I co-hosted a show was out of necessity - the supervisor of this project was running late and time waits for no one! It was 10AM and the show had to go on. I remember pacing frantically and having a mini-panic attack as I thought of everything that could go wrong. I know my strengths, and I know I am far more effective behind the scenes - I don't really like attention and I get pretty bad stage fright. A million questions went through my mind as the inevitable loomed closer - where were the talking points? Do I know enough (or frankly, anything) about this topic to have a conversation with this renowned Jamaican attorney? Will the listeners even tune in when they hear a random, foreign host? This shit is LIVE, what if I fuck it up? I was very anxious. I remember saying a prayer that God unbind my tongue and open my mind. I forced myself to smile to decrease my stress levels. I had my notes and questions, a glass of water and view of my sound engineer and 3, 2, 1...we were on the air.
I was able to converse with the attorney for the full hour, even after my supervisor arrived on site. Instead of taking over, he asked me complete the hour (he had been listening in his cab ride over) and we co-hosted the program for the rest of my summer in Jamaica.
I was extremely proud of myself. I will not say I have conquered my fear of public speaking, but each time I think "I can't", I modify those self-deprecating thoughts and instead remember that "I can and I did ".
And you can too.