So here's the thing. I had my very first presentation in French (it didn't go over so well), which I had prepared for and felt pretty confident about. And despite last week when the news of the presentation sent me spiralling down, I picked myself up, changed my perspective on things, and I was ready to rock.
Here's what I wrote two days ago:
Today’s wins so far:
1. I emailed my teacher after class Friday to see if I could switch my presentation day from today to Wednesday (we have 3 days of them) since I was stressing like crazy about it, and she said yes! She also reminded me today (since I was honest about how nervous I was to speak in front of the others who have many more years of French than I do), that it doesn’t matter where I’m at in comparison to anyone else. What matters is that I continue to improve my own learning each day, which I do.
2. Today’s presentations were so light and fun and everyone was encouraging and supportive so now I’m not worried about speaking French in front of the group or messing up in front of them.
3. In one exercise I came up with a different answer than the teacher presented and at first she said mine wasn’t correct, but then my very fluent friend, Fiona, backed me up and described why it was correct, and in the end my teacher said my answer was in fact correct, and she gave me a thumbs up! Then I clapped for myself.
4. I’m happy to share that now that I let go of my insecurity over how I compare to the most fluent ones in the class, I am feeling quite proud of where I’m at. Unlike last week, today I was not at all holding back with expressing in French (for fear that others would judge me as harshly as I was judging myself at the time), so today was a pleasure for me. We started the class by speaking in groups and I didn’t feel at all self-conscious. And the only thing that changed from last week to this one was how I was perceiving myself.
So there you go. Change your thoughts and you change everything!
Cut to today, I wasn't especially nervous because I was no longer worried that I had to be as fluent as the really fluent folks, and I was even a little excited to talk about the reasons it's a great idea to adopt your next pet from a shelter.
I chose a subject that's close to my heart, I made cute cue cards, I wrote out some brief notes, had a great sleep last night and I was ready to go!
But things didn't go as planned.
Once I was up there, the nerves hit, my voice shook, my hands were shaking, and although I did manage to get the first part of my presentation out without a hitch, once I got to the part about how good pets are for your heart and soul, the tears started to flow. Sigh.
So that happened.
And basically I forgot 99% of my presentation after that and had a really hard time forming my sentences in French in front of the class even though under normal circumstances I can get my ideas out pretty coherently. I don't do well under pressure. Never have. I freeze, blank out, or have a meltdown.
Luckily, I'm surrounded by supportive and awesome humans like Fiona, who help me through all that I face in life.
After my teary presentation, I received nothing but love and hugs and high fives and words of encouragement from my classmates. What a great group!
Of course it’s embarrassing to flop publicly but it happens and it’s human and at least we’re trying. And I’m a walking heart to say the least, so my feelers are in overdrive in stressful situations. And this wasn't the first time this has happened to me.
My friend, Gayle, and I reminisced on that previous post about the same thing happening to me in our grade 11 English class where I ended up forgetting my lines and then crying and not being able to finish my Shakespeare presentation. But luckily my teacher made me redo it and I kicked ass that second round and got the highest mark in the class! And if I could have done this one a second time today, I would have delivered it as intended as well.
I was prepared, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for how I’d feel once I was up there.
Anyways, my friends didn’t let me for a moment feel bad about what happened. And now that I’ve had a few hours to process and release the situation, I don’t plan to feel bad about what happened, either.
I knew what I was talking about even if I didn’t get a chance to demonstrate that to the class as fully as I would have liked, and I’m still so proud to know some (any) French at all, and I plan to learn a whole lot more so who cares about the messy bits in between. Not me. And not today because I’ve come a long way.
Plus, if this has happened to me in both English and French, I’m just going to assume I’ll also have a public meltdown in Italian as well because that's the next language I want to learn. And if one bout of tears in front of a group of people is all it takes to get my jitters out of the way so that my next attempt is stellar, I’ll take it.
With love and a deep breath and my confidence still in tact (thank goodness),
(Image from Pinterest, artist unknown)
"I want to have a meltdown in Italian with you." Alicia Montplaisir
"Bottle your essence and make a billion. I'll take a crate when it's ready." BJ Del Conte
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