Introvert Speaking on Stage

I don't know about many of you out there, but I am a big time introvert. Being an introvert usually means you stick to yourself and you can be extremely shy about somethings. Typically you won't speak first, so you naturally suck at networking events. Now add that together with stage fright and you feel like any second your heart will rip out of your chest and you will die instantly. YIKES! That pretty much sums up how I felt during my first poetry open mic event at Voices In Power.

Growing up, I was always the shy girl. I never said to much during school. I talked so little, that teachers would complain to my mother about my lack of participation in class. I never raised my hand because I never wanted to be called on. However, let me tell you a story of my childhood experience in school.

While in school I had trouble learning the English language. During the school week I stayed with my mother who spoke very little English. She fluently spoke Spanish. My mother being a proud Dominican demanded that Spanish would be spoken at all times in the house. While it was a good thing to preserve our heritage, culture and native tongue, it hindered me big time in the classroom. My father on the other hand spoke fluent English but he would often pronounce certain words incorrectly. So naturally kids in school would pick on me for pronouncing things incorrectly. I didn't know about certain letters being silent. I just knew that is how my father and mother pronounced it. 

Acura e.g. my mother pronounced (A-KUE-RA). My father would pronounce the word "whole" as "wool." You have no idea the amount of embarrassment I went through during elementary school in NYC. To add salt to injury, my mother bought the knock-off's of some of the top brands like "North Pole." I wore "South Pole" fake puffed up jacket to school. Every day someone else came up with a new joke to make me feel small. I wanted to crawl into the pockets of my coat and disappear. 

I say all this to say, that those past experiences hindered me from remotely wanting to step into any spotlight. I hated public speaking. I hated speaking period. Anther reason why I would always write down my feelings. I lived in constant fear that I would either pronounce something wrong or someone would joke about my appearance. It doesn't help that I have always been soft spoken. So you may be asking yourself why I decided to do open mic.

To be honest, I read in a book Three Feet From Gold: Turn Your Obstacles Into Opportunities it stated that if you ever want to become successful at anything you have to get used to being uncomfortable. Being comfortable never really pushes you to your true potential. I already built up the courage to write MOLT and I poured a lot of myself into this book. I dedicated a years worth of my life and sleepless nights to thread together this anthology book full of my life experiences. I shared with the world a piece of me I held dear for so long. Not even my husband knew or read my poetry before. I can't just let it go to waste. Besides, the poem I was going to share was a poem I wrote about my autistic nephew. As poets we hold a power and a duty to speak for those who can't speak for themselves. It is an opportunity for every writer to shed light on topics that often are left behind in the shadows of entertainment and politics.

So I told myself I would get on stage and allow others to hear what I had to say. I wasn't taking anything from anyone. I was there to give instead. No matter how I sounded I was there simply as a messenger. It did help however, I was there (Voices in Power) with my husband who was also showcasing his artwork. This sense of purpose drove me to that stage and overcome my fear. I can't say I wasn't frightened beyond belief but to receive a standing ovation made me feel like I finally helped the little girl inside come out her cage.

Tell me what is something you did to overcome your fear? Have you ever been on stage to present to a large group of people? What are some tips you may have for others who suffer from stage fright?