Learn­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - BRATS - By JONATHAN DASON brats@thes­tar.com.my The writer is a mem­ber of The Star’s BRATs young jour­nal­ist pro­gramme, or­gan­ised by R.AGE. To reg­is­ter for the BRATs 2014 pro­gramme, log on to face­book.com/star­brats.

HAVE you ever had that mo­ment where you were about to do some­thing when all of a sud­den, some­thing trig­gers your mem­ory, caus­ing you to pull back and stop what you were do­ing?

The feel­ing is sim­i­lar to the kind of fear that en­velops some peo­ple just be­fore an exam, but not quite. This par­tic­u­lar emo­tion is much stronger, its paralysing ef­fect more se­vere.

That stom­ach cramp-in­duc­ing feel­ing for me used to come dur­ing pub­lic speak­ing. It hap­pened in school when I was in Form Three. My teacher had in­formed me about the topic just a day be­fore the event. I was tasked with writ­ing a speech and de­liv­er­ing it at the school’s as­sem­bly.

It was my first time on stage in school with over 1,000 stu­dents as my au­di­ence. The weather on the day it­self was hot and sunny, and the as­sem­bly was held in the af­ter­noon in­side the school’s hall.

I’m not sure whether it was due to the hot and hu­mid con­di­tions in­side the packed hall or I was start­ing to get tensed over the fact that half the school was star­ing at me as if I had bro­ken the law; but nev­er­the­less, I be­gan to sweat pro­fusely.

With my heart pound­ing fast, I made my way up the stairs and on to the ros­trum. As I ut­tered my first words into the mi­cro­phone, it be­came clear that I was ner­vous.

Half­way through the speech, the but­ter­flies in my stom­ach got the bet­ter of me and I stared blankly at my au­di­ence hop­ing that the words would just roll off my tongue.

But, it didn’t hap­pen. I ended up pub­licly declar­ing that I was ner­vous and stepped down from the stage.

Many of us have likely had em­bar­rass­ing sto­ries from the past like mine. While I think it is al­ways good to be able to share th­ese sto­ries in an open and pos­i­tive man­ner, it is more im­por­tant that we learn from th­ese ex­pe­ri­ences and move on.

I’ve got­ten a lot bet­ter since that par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent. Now, when I speak in front of a crowd I make sure that the jit­ters don’t over­come me mid­way through the speech by pre­par­ing a lot ear­lier and talk­ing to fam­ily mem­bers be­fore each speech be­gins.

Per­haps this quote from Eleanor Roo­sevelt, the long­est serv­ing First Lady of the United States, cap­tures it best: “You gain strength, courage and con­fi­dence by ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence in which you re­ally stop and look fear in the face... You must do the thing you think you can­not do.”

Do not let sour past ex­pe­ri­ences hold you back. In­stead, use them as step­ping stones for suc­cess.

Af­ter all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

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