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That thing that scares the bejeezus out of you

Fat Mum Slim /

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Playing musical statues at my session | Image via Veggie Mama

Can you hear that?

It’s me, breathing a huge sigh of relief. The biggest sigh of relief there ever was.

Many months ago, about ten to be more precise, I got an email asking if I would speak at the ProBlogger conference. Those sort of emails always delight me at first, “Oh what? You think I’m good enough? Hurrah!” and then scare the bejeezus out of “I can’t do that!” and the tug-o-war begins.

To speak or not to speak?

I love a challenge, and so I said yes. I said yes thinking that I was going to be speaking on a panel. I said yes because I know the good stuff happens when you get out of your comfort zone.

Weeks later realised that I had in fact agreed to speak BY MYSELF in front of a huge number of people FOR ALMOST AN HOUR. My anxiety kicked in immediately. I woke in the middle of the night, various times, fretting about the speech. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

For the first six months of that lead up to the conference I tried to hatch plans to get out of it. There were points when I thought I’d rather give birth. And, in case you didn’t know, giving birth is kinda painful… so that’s saying something.

The team at ProBlogger kindly gifted me the services of Yvonne Adele to help me get my speech on. There eventually came a point, when talking to her, that I realised that I actually couldn’t get out of it. I was actually going to do it.

I don’t like being the centre of attention. I am clumsy, so I fall over a lot. I sometimes stutter. I freeze when I have to talk in front of five people, let alone 200. I was sure that I was going to fall over, be impaled by a microphone stand and make a fool of myself in front of all my blogging peers.

As the day neared, my anxiety increased. The speech consumed me. I think everyone I know knew I was doing that darn speech. From family and friends, to the man at the petrol station, the lady that does my eyebrows and the woman I buy bread from. They all knew. {And I kinda think they couldn’t wait until it was over}.

With Yvonne I planned, and practiced and hatched cool ideas to make the presentation fun and memorable. I was doing it.

My session was on the Saturday, and because I’m still feeding Luella the whole weekend required a really strict plan that I wrote up and put on the fridge for everyone to refer to. “What day is your speech?” Hubby would ask. “DID YOU NOT READ MY PLAN ON THE FRIDGE?”

Dude.

The day before my session rolled around and I couldn’t have been more prepared. Everything was going according to my plan. Well, it was until it decided not to. I was sitting in my room waiting for Luella to wake. The keynote had started and I shared a photo of her on Instagram sleeping, while I waited. Immediately after I got a text message from a friend to say that someone close to me had died. I lost it. Big, fat, hot tears fell down my cheeks. I sobbed audibly. I was devastated. He was the beautiful father of the children I nannied for 8 years. He was like a father to me in my twenties. He was protective of me, like only a dad can be. He, along with his wife, showed me how I wanted to parent. He loved with all his heart. He balanced being successful with being the best dad I’ve ever met. He told the worst dad jokes you’ve ever heard, and I always loved them. I was broken. I ached for the kids I loved, and how their hearts must have been breaking in two.

An exciting thing about the conference is that you get to meet the bloggers whose lives you read online. I get starstruck and excited by seeing the people I know all those beautiful details about. Luella woke from her sleep, I washed my face, covered up my under-eye bags with make-up and headed down to hear the end of the keynote. I ran into one of those bloggers I love, and despite trying to hold it all together. I lost it, momentarily. Tears.

I attended the keynote for about 20 minutes and then saw 2 minutes of another session before realising that I just wasn’t in a great space to be around people when inside I felt so desperately sad, plus little Luella was grizzly and unhappy… so I headed home.

As soon as I headed home, Luella just went downhill. She was lethargic and vomiting and just wouldn’t keep anything down. She was particularly dehydrated and unhappy, so on the advice of a nurse friend I headed into hospital. We sat in that hospital for hours. We saw patients come and go, and still we sat there and waited for Luella to get better. I was stressed. Like snappy, cranky, frazzled, out-of-my-mind stressed about Luella. About the speech. About losing a friend. About all the things.

Perhaps this is the out that I was searching for? I thought. Perhaps the Universe is trying to tell me not to do this speech? Perhaps?

I turned to Hubby and said, “You know, I’ve been searching and hoping for an out for this speech all this time. And now that all this stuff is happening, I’d be devastated if I couldn’t do it.”

Late that night we were discharged and we headed home. I woke early and headed into the conference, a not-very-happy baby with me {and my Ma to give her countless cuddles while I was speaking}. I won’t lie, I started having a panic attack in the car. I was really, terribly, down-to-my-bones frightened of speaking in public.

But I did it. The room filled up, to the point there were no seats left and people were standing. People laughed {so loud the session next door got a little miffed, I heard}, people cried, people danced and people got inspired.

I did it.

I did that thing that scared me so badly that I didn’t think I could do ut. I did it when my plate was being loaded with a whole heap of other stuff for me to juggle at the same time.

shoes

In the lift that night, I had a moment of solitude. You know the moments when you fill the silence with a bit of self-talk. And for the first time in a while, I was so proud of myself. I did something I felt was so completely out of reach, so far out of my comfort zone and so completely un-doable, and it felt so good. I was proud. I did it.

And just quietly, I think I’d probably do it again.

When is the last time you did something that scared the bejeezus out of you?

@Fatmumslim