I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
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Saturday, May 30, 2015


Public speaking is an invisible monster for most people.  I wrote about one of my early experiences here.  I wish everyone could have an affirming experience when they face a fear, though I'll admit my fear of public speaking persisted a long time even though I've had positive experiences with it.  Nobody's booed me at any rate.

I had a boss who was absolutely wonderful: supportive, kind... challenging.  He made me lead meetings and speak at staff meetings.  That was about 250 faces looking only at a shy introvert.  I was pretty sure Leon was going to give me a stroke if he didn't succeed in helping me grow.

I survived, and reinforced one of my core beliefs that most people want us to succeed.  My coworkers may have been bored silly during my presentation, but they went out of their way to say I'd done well.  Over and over, people have affirmed my public speaking efforts even though I've done everything I could to avoid them.  This isn't to brag that I'm good at it.  I think people have been on my side because I admit I'm nervous and laugh at myself.  I make an effort and try to do better.

There was a time when I was in a bad marriage, lived as a recluse in the woods, then moved back to suburbia and got a job.  I'd forgotten how to speak.  Not just standing in front of a crowd, I mean I forgot really basic stuff.  A kid said "hi" to me and I couldn't think of a response.  He saw me choking internally and gave me a funny look, and then shrugged and skipped off.  I went to my office and had a meltdown.  I called a friend who supplied the answer, "You say 'hi' back".  Oh.  Duh.

Next time I saw a kid I said "hi".  I remembered to smile too.  I got better at it, which was a really good thing because I had to get on stage and talk to hundreds of people at a time for that job.  I had to teach classes too.  I dealt with it.

I think most fears are like this.  People really don't die when they have to give an oral report at school or present something in a meeting.  A monster isn't going to come from under the bed and a bear isn't going to maul you.

We're afraid of mistakes that will in some way ruin our lives or subject us to criticism.  Here's a hard fact, criticism doesn't kill you either.  Unless someone is coming at you with a knife, you're probably safe to try tackling one of your invisible monsters.  Start with an easy one.  If the people around you don't support your effort, find someone who will.  That doesn't mean find someone who just says you're always wonderful.  Find someone who is willing to be there for you while you try.  Find a Leon who helps push you to do better.

I'm grateful to the people who have helped me through my life.  I feel fortunate, even when I'll be the first to say that I've had more than my share of crap in life too.  I think the point of living is taking our talents and experiences and doing something with them, learning to do better as we go.  That's true of painting a picture, and it's true of creating our lives.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Korki! You're one of those supportive, helpful people :)

  2. Linda, this is a good story and one most of us can relate to at some point.

    1. Sometimes I think "oh, don't talk about that! And then I think the stuff we wouldn't necessarily want to share is the stuff that people most relate to. Thanks for confirming that thought :)

  3. Linda, this illustrates the topic perfectly. Yes, people are generally supportive and understanding, rather than the monsters that we imagine will be present when we take those steps outside our comfort zones. You've illustrated this perfectly- Your "monster" is ethereal and quite beautiful!

  4. Linda, that is a very scary monster. A stalking monster too. And you know what? You walk straight through it because with certain light you don't notice it. It does leave you with cold shivers.
    Well done.

  5. Very thoughtful and heartfelt, as always. I agree that the audience generally wants you to succeed, not that I have massive experience with public speaking. If you can connect through eye contact with just one person you tend to feel better!

  6. I think you make three good points about fear. First of all that most fears can be overcome - it's usually not based on a rational thought. Secondly that most people want you well. And thirdly when you get criticized, you'll survive that as well. Great, inspiring post.

  7. Thanks everybody! I think my monster doodle happened so easily because I'm really familiar with it in so many ways. Fears are just bad ideas lurking in our heads until we think them so many times they start to have shape, even if it's just a "ethereal" shape. All it takes is a little support and the thing gets blown away. Here's to hoping everyone else gets rid of fears!

  8. Your illustration is so spooky! Good job with your public speaking. And what great coworkers. It's always nice when people surprise you in a good way.

  9. Great thoughts as always Linda. Us negative human beings really do need to try to keep our fears at bay...it's hard sometimes though isn't it. I think life experience really helps here.Your doodle is really scary...great illustration x