First of all, I cannot believe that my first Project Confidence post was 3 weeks ago! I honestly have no idea where all of that time as disappeared to, it’s a bit scary actually.
That being said, today I was struck with a pretty hefty job that made me wish I had started Project Confidence months ago. A few weeks ago, my boss arranged for me to be in today’s management meeting to discuss something I have been working on recently. I had completely forgotten about it until he reminded me a few hours beforehand. Since I knew what I was going to be discussing fairly well, I decided not to practise, instead deciding I would ‘wing it’. Ultimately, if someone asks you to speak about something you have created then you usually feel confident to do so, which is how I was feeling before the meeting.
My heart stuttered slightly when I set foot in the meeting room and I saw that instead of there being five managers (which is how many I had been led to believe would be attending), I was greeted by 9 managers. I was a little taken aback at first but as the meeting began, I relaxed and found that I wasn’t actually nervous. After all, I was just sitting with people.
And then the coordinator passed the meeting over to me.
Every pair of eyes in the room turned to look at me and my mind went blank but my mouth ran away. I began talking about everything that everyone in the meeting already knew instead of introducing new and fresh information about the topic. I reiterated what I had already emailed most of the managers about a few weeks ago and didn’t bring anything new to the table, despite wanting to say this and wanting to say that and wanting to share with them the news that the project I have been working on is going to be launched across the entire company! Pretty big news, but I found that as soon as the ball was in my court, my mouth didn’t bother to wait for my brain to think. All I could focus on were the eyes glaring at me and as the few moments that I was speaking passed, I grew more and more conscious of the fact that I was just a little girl pretending to be important sitting in a manager’s meeting.
Now, I know that isn’t the case. Somewhere inside the logical part of my brain, I know that that is not how the manager’s see me. I know logically that people don’t see me as a little, naive girl that they have to tolerate, yet it is a feeling that I can’t shake. Even when I finished speaking and the meeting continued I found my heart still pounding. When I left the meeting to get back to my job, I found a piece of bubble wrap and sat popping the air bubbles for a few minutes to calm myself down before I went back to work.
I also found myself wishing that I had started the personality side of Project Confidence sooner. It is all very well and good focussing on the physical side of losing weight, toning up and buying clothes to flatter your shape but when it comes to altering personalities, that’s where the real work begins.
I found myself dealing with the anxiety and self-deprication by trying to assure myself that I did not come across in the way I feared I did. I repeated to myself a few times that I am not a little girl, I deserved to be there and I did well. It took a while for me to begin to believe that but, 9 hours after the meeting, I am finally starting to believe it. I appreciate that I could have done better but at the same time I am still proud for not feeling nervous beforehand. There is still so much for me to work on surrounding public speaking (or even speaking in front of family as I still stutter with them around!) but I think today has at least proven to me just how much I need to work on building my confidence.
Every cloud has it’s silver linings, eh? And this is me just beginning to search through my abundance of clouds.