Thursday, February 20, 2014

Speaking up

Today I had class at UW. We meet every other week at the beautiful Seattle campus and our class days are long. Classes this quarter is not too lengthy, however, which is nice. We're there about 7-8 hours for two classes. 

Confession: I have a fears. One prominent fear is speaking up, mostly in front of a lot of people. In high school, I put myself in front of other people because I love to lead... behind the scenes. I learned early on to be a leader you still had to put up with some public speaking and some embarrassment and some "being different."

This is when I was a counselor at a WA state leadership camp the summer after my senior year in high school. It was a few weeks definitely full of stand-up-in-front-of-a-bunch-of-people-and-make-a-fool-of-yourself, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.

To this day I rarely, if EVER, ask a question in a college class. At BYU, most classes start out with a prayer beforehand and even that gave me intense anxiety. I would never, ever volunteer. Praying... something I do multiple times a day and something that is a normal part of every function in my church. When a teacher says, "We are going to call on random students to answer questions and participate," it makes me want to get up and run out of the classroom. I've realized a few reasons why this real-life scenario actually scares me:

1. I'm afraid that I will ask/say something that was just talked about 5 minutes ago when I wasn't paying attention 
2. I'm afraid that what I will ask/say will sound stupid
3. Every time I speak in front of people my face turns really really red and I start sweating and my heart beats so loudly that I can't hear anything else

To add to my fears, in my current DNP program I am the youngest one. I am the least experienced one. I get to learn from an incredible group of colleagues, peers and professors that have what seems like a million times more nursing, professional, and "real life" experience than I do. It is really intimidating. I have been reassured by my fantastic program director many times that I can and will succeed in this program even with my limited background (and I really do believe her!) and the process of feeling comfortable putting my two baby cents in is coming along well. Slowly, but it'll get there. 

So today, I have a small triumph to share with you. I spoke up! Not in front of the class, but in a small group. Hey, it's progress right? I took charge of my group of eight or so students as we planned our final project that is due in three weeks. It took a few tries for me to voice my ideas without being intimidated by objections and critical comments by my group members. But I stuck with it and voiced a vision for our project that everyone actually liked, and then I proceeded to organize who would do each part of the project with the group. I felt like a ringleader for the first time in years. I used to feel that way all the time. It felt awesome to be listened to and valued among amazing nurses that I respect so much. It felt exhilarating to know that what I had to say was worth something, my ideas were good and I knew what the heck I was talking about. And my group seemed surprisingly very happy to be a little bit more organized, cohesive and to have someone taking the extra responsibility of "being in charge." 

Being a leader is a very important part of who I am. I reference high school a lot in my posts (and in real life) because I feel like that is when I developed a very strong sense of who I really am. I was very active in leadership in high school and that made me happy. Those skills and interests became dormant when I suddenly was just a face in a student body of 33,000 at only 18 years old. I am giddy after taking such a small but rewarding risk today and I am excited that as I get older, my confidence in my knowledge and abilities is resurfacing. I hope you can do something that makes you a little bit nervous and overcome a fear today - however small it is.

Have a happy weekend! 

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