Monday, April 7, 2014

Facing a Fear

Did you know that the fear of public speaking is often cited as the second most common fear amongst humans?

Yeah, #2 (Flying is #1). That means people are more afraid of public speaking than snakes, spiders, (or octopus if you're me), and even death.

Well, I understand that fear! Despite both a theater and teaching background, for the longest time the idea of standing up in front of a crowd and delivering a speech, which somehow has to be so much more refined and ideally powerful than teaching a lesson to six-year-olds, or reciting lines and... ahhhhhhh!!

Seriously, I have been known to shake in my stilettos before, during, and after (okay, stilettos are a poor choice for such an event). I have been actually able to feel my heart trying to escape my chest, and it isn't the PH at play.

None of that mattered though when I was approached prior to the PHA International Conference of 2012 and asked to be the keynote for the Founders' Dinner. Oh sure, all the fear flashed through my head, but how does one turn something like that down?

So, I said yes. And continued to freak out. And wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote a speech. Then my best friend edited it, and my mom gave me a brilliant idea on how to practice, and another friend snapped me back to reality and out of a potential melt-down a few days before, and another friend insisted in putting a glass of wine in my hand just prior to delivery, and... well, I didn't keel to the floor after all.

And now, public speaking doesn't bother me so much. In fact, I kind of dig it.

So, this speech is dedicated to:

Rachel - my editor, ass-kicker as needed, and best friend since we were 18.
Mom - who knew exactly the trick I would end up needing to practice this enough not to shake.
Joshua - for, as usual, making the frank matter-of-fact observation that made me believe I could do this.
PHA - for, also as usual, trusting me with a task I didn't know how I was going to pull off, but did anyway.
And you, the PH Community - who gave me the strength from the beginning, and make me want to fight harder every day.

Thank you.


  1. Congratulations Colleen from a fellow IIN grad. You did a splendid job sharing your story and celebrating those who are in this journey with you. Your presence speaks volumes about courage and hope. I wish you all the best as you continue to support and be supported in your journey.
    Warmly, Angela Gaffney

  2. Thank you, Angela!! All the best to you as well.

  3. I only ass kick in heels :)