I don’t think I’ve always hated doing presentations as much as I do now. I remember, when I was still 10 or 11 years old and in primary school, I didn’t really mind, until one time my PowerPoint wouldn’t work and I broke down crying in front of everyone. I guess that was when it started going downhill.
I’m writing this blogpost because I just got out of a class that basically taught how to not freak the FUCK out when you’ve got to do a presentation, and I realised that, more than everything, it’d help me to know where my fear came from – so I’d know what to do to maybe, someday, get over it.
I’ve never had much confidence in myself. Not in my skills and the things I’m capable of, and certainly not in the way I look. I think this is because – and I’m blaming no one here – I’ve got two sisters, one’s two years older than me and one’s two years younger than me, who have always been straight A students (in Dutch schools we don’t actually use that system but you know what I mean). They’ve always gotten high grades, they’ve never struggled too much with school and studying, and I was the only one of us three who did.
This made me feel like I was less-than, and the fact that I didn’t have many real friends in primary school and secondary school and wasn’t being chased by boys like my other friends, made my confidence level sink lower than ever. And as my confidence sank, the dread I felt about presenting in front of people who were judging my every move, grew.
It wasn’t just about feeling nervous and not wanting to fail anymore, it was about the audience watching me, looking at me, listening to me. I can’t quite explain the thoughts that go through my mind, as after seven years of being in complete terror before any presentation, my whole body just feels like I’m being hunted down by five hungry lions. It’s less of a thought and more of a feeling.
For some reason, for me, KNOWING I’ve got to present makes it worse. I feel stressed for weeks, and in the week before the presentation, I can’t relax at all. This makes for an even worse situation right before the presentation; at that point I’m all over-stressed and over-tired. I keep thinking about having all those eyes on me, and everyone expecting something from me that I might not live up to. I usually plan my outfit weeks in advance and make sure my hair is freshly washed, that’s how much I care. It’s pathetic.
I think in the end it’s just the low self confidence that’s entrenched in my mind that stops me from presenting in front of a class normally. I care too much, still, after what other people think of me, which bothers me, because I don’t want to be one of those people who live a life designed to make other people like them. I haven’t figured out how to say “fuck it, fuck you, I don’t give a shit about your opinion” (and MEAN it) yet, though. When I do, I’ll let you know.