That thing that scares the bejeezus out of you

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?”


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.


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?

93 thoughts on “That thing that scares the bejeezus out of you”

  1. I know this feeling all too well! I just spoke at BlogHer last month, and felt sick to my stomach. I can’t say that I looked for an out, but I do think that I looked to sabotage myself, and I’m blessed that those close to me wouldn’t let me. I’m glad that you came out on top, and that Luella is feeling better!

  2. I hear you! Speaking in public has to be the scariest thing a person can do – but surviving it is like one of the biggest highs you can have. What an amazing experience (wish I was there) and I am sure you’re beautiful friend/ex-boss was cheering you on from up high xx

  3. Yay you!!!! I’m really sorry about your sad news lovely, and your sick bubba, but well done for overcoming it all to do something terrifying! AND enjoying it! You’re amazing!!! Ps you’ve inspired me to start my blog….something I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t due to an intense fear of people knowing stuff about me! (I’m not a sharer by nature). Xx

  4. Congratulations on making it through. What an inspirational post. I struggle so much with public speaking and have to speak in front of some quite senior people this week. I think I’ll take a note from your book and just make myself do it!

  5. Oh Chantelle, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, he sounds like he was an amazing man. I hope Luella is feeling much better, its always seeing your babies so unwell.
    Public speaking is one of my biggest fears. I get sweaty palms and a million butterflies in my stomach. I think it’s absolutely fantastic that you got up in front of so many people to talk for so long, especially as it is something that scares you so much. I bet you did a brilliant job, I would have loved to be there to hear you speak.

  6. Oh, I am so sorry for your loss and so gutted that I missed your moment of glory. Word on the grapevine is that it was the best bit of the conference, and I’m not even a bit surprised. Well done you! I’m about to run 21km around the happiest place on earth which is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I hate to fail! So, let’s just say I’m about 12000kms away from my comfort zone!

  7. And my dear Chantelle, you were magnificent! I’m so sorry for your loss, that is so incredibly sad – all the more inspired that you managed to speak! And will a poorly bubba, amaze gorgeous, you are amazing! I have that thank you gift for you. I’ll post it when I get home <3

  8. The timing of this post, for me, was impeccable! I just posted a photo on Instagram about a Christmas food blogger meet up that I thought I’d organise. I was petrified, then I read your post. Thank you!

    I’m so sorry that you had such a though time over the weekend, from all accounts, your talk was amazing!

  9. Gosh Chantelle, I had no idea all this was going on behind the scenes! You poor thing and poor Luella!! I didn’t see you speak because I made a last minute decision to go next door but I so wished I had gone in but there was no room for me and I didn’t want to be rude to the speaker by walking out. I can’t wait for your cookie school to learn what I can. Be proud of facing your fear of speaking in public. I hope they ask you again because I only heard good things from those that sat in on your session.

  10. Well done! I wished id seen it in person! I know when I was starting out in acting the nerves consumed me but over time I learned to trust them and convert them into good. I’d actually take it as a super good omen if I was nervous. You could get there too in time 🙂

  11. Loved your speech Chantelle. You had the warmest, most excited group of followers in there. You are truly loved and appreciated for everything you have given to your community.

  12. Well done, Chantelle! I wish I could have been there, but everyone was tweeting how great you were. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend, and I hope Luella is feeling much better. Sarah x

  13. I came to your session. It was my favourite one because you are so YOU. It was so so so good. You are humble and talented and beautiful. I am so very sorry about the loss of such a man. We just never know what’s coming to us.

    Chantelle I want you to know that I’m dreading the next couple of months and have decided to do your photo-a-day to keep me distracted. Thank you, gorgeous xxxxxxx

  14. I don’t even know you (outside your blog) but I am SO proud of you Chantelle! For you to do something that is so nerve-wracking and stressful for you and do it so well (based on all the rave reviews on Twitter and Instagram I saw), well that is just incredible.
    Congratulations, and at the same time my condolences for your loss. Hope that being at home with the family is soothing your soul right now. Lauren x

  15. I have tears as I read this. What a stressful & sad time. I was lucky enough to be in there to hear your speech. It was amazing. You totally rocked it. It was fun, funny & your story is so inspiring. I hope your little lady is on the mend & I wish you much love in your grief.

  16. You totally should do it again!! The pure beauty that shines out of you Chantelle is a privilege to witness. Your story is incredibly inspiring and there was such love for you in the room that day for sharing it with us. I was in tears and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. Thank you.

    • Awww, thanks Kirralee. Thank you. So glad it moved you.

      Can I just say again how beautiful and stylish you are? Thanks for lunching with me and chatting at PB. Hope you had a good time. x

  17. You did awesome girl. I was there in that room dancing, laughing and getting teary with you, and would never had known that you were going through all of that. You inspired me to blog about how the war for talent is being lost in organisations because people like you, blogging and doing business with all your heart and talent have chosen to do something different. Keep your head up. Your are amazing and beautiful.

  18. When I read you were a solo speaker I thought, wow! Go Chantelle because I also know you would prefer to be not the centre of attention! But hey, YOU did it! And so well! Next time any doubts creep into your thought patterns.. Remember THIS! You did it! So pleased. Denyse

  19. I have no doubt that despite all that was thrown at you, you were marvelous xxx Hope Miss Luella is feeling better and condolences to you xxxxx

  20. Oh my goodness – so much hard stuff going on for you behind the scenes, and we didn’t know it. You spoke really well and I loved hearing how your journey unfolded, and then how so many of your ladies showered you with love during the Q & A. Well done!! You are totally right to be proud of yourself

  21. Reading your blog, I have great empathy for you. It reminds me we are all human. We all have stuff that makes as happy, sad, scared, excited, determined, disappointed, discouraged, hurt, emotional, loved…blogging (and reading blogs) brings us together as people. A sense that we aren’t doing it alone and we can share with each other our struggles and joys. Together we can find hope, joy, friendship, faith… Will get off the soap box now. Sorry to read of your loss and hooray for getting through your speech and smashing it!

  22. Oh my gosh! You poor thing. You must have been beside yourself. Congrats on getting through and leaping out of your comfort zone. What a feeling eh? 🙂

  23. I seen many tweets and pics about your session and I was really proud to hear it went so well. To do all that with do much going on I’d amazing.

    Loads of stuff scares me a lot these days. I get quite bad anxiety since having Jonty and suffering the post delivery pre eclampsia after his birth. To start with it was just leaving the house and doing every day kinda things. Now I’m just little things like going to events and taking the kids to the zoo etc to feel less anxious.

    I hope Miss Luella is feeling better and huge hugs for you. X

    • Thanks for your kind words. Sorry to hear about the anxiety, I know it can be really hard to push yourself to do those things that scare you. You are so brave to be doing just that. x

  24. I am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend and so in awe of you taking this huge leap out of your comfort zone.

    I would have loved to go to #pbevent but I just couldn’t justify adding the flights from the UK, too. Maybe one day!

    Did anyone video your speech? I would LOVE to watch it!

  25. You did amazingly! You wouldn’t know you were nervous, and I was the crazy stalker who was front and centre (I maybe got there 30mins before to make sure I got a seat at the front).

    It was so inspiring to hear your story and see how wonderfully humble you are in person! Can’t wait to see what you do next! And sorry for immediately stalking you after your session for a selfie 🙂

    • I LOVED having you there while I was waiting. It was calming, and then I loved that you still liked me after the talk. Ha! Thank you for being so cool. I really appreciated it. xxx

  26. So sorry for your loss and for luella being sick. I am not surprised that it went so well in spite of everything… Your warmth and beautiful self was probably shining through. I wish I had been there. It was lovely to see you at lunch though. Thanks again for everything. I have been writing in the beautiful gratitude journal. Thanks xx deb

  27. Oh Chantelle, good on you for going through with it! I have a big fear of most things out of my comfort zone so with all those road blocks I would have skipped in the opposite direction without a second thought!
    As silly as it sounds the last time I did something that freaked me out completely was your lunch last week! From getting on the plane on my own to going somewhere where I knew no one wasn’t something I would ever do! But I’m so glad I did!

    • I’m so proud of you because that would have freaked me out too. I loved seeing you and can’t wait to get to know you more with Clever Cookie school. Thank you for making that SUPER effort.

  28. Chantelle there was NO hint of an idea that you’d been through so much in the lead up to your session (obviously) and as an outsider you NAILED IT! I’m so sorry to hear about the lows this weekend. Chatting to you face to face was definitely a highlight for me.

    • Awww thanks Kim. Same with me. Was glad I finally got to say hello, and didn’t say hello to that wrong person who looks just like you! Hope you had a lovely weekend. xx

  29. It’s funny whilst at school I was full of confidence and won various public speaking and debating awards. I delivered 20 minute speeches without palm cards and wouldn’t bat an eyelid… Now I’d be so scared to deliver a speech in front of a crowd! You did an amazing job at problogger (even though I didn’t attend and was a crazy mad women stalking the #pbevent hashtag on social media).

  30. Oh my gosh, I am feeling such a mix of emotions for you right now! I feel proud for and of you, happy for you, excited for you, worried for you, sad for you …. Jeez what a plateful you had this weekend. Do you have a little downtime this week? xx

  31. This problogger was my first and I was instantly star struck by many of the bloggers that I look up to as having made it or are doing something good with their blogs (spreading a message).You are one of those people and I was thrilled when I saw on the schedule that you were speaking. I was also supper nervous about talking to so many complete strangers.

    You did an amazing job. Considering all that you had on your plate you should be very proud. I can now only imagine how some of those pictures you shared with us, your avid listeners, must have touched on those sensitive topics while you spoke. I personally am grateful you stepped out of your comfort zone to inspire us and share so much of your knowledge. Thank you!

    • Oh yes, the first image of the kids I nannied was a tough-y, but I just had to block it all out and just get through it. Had a little moment afterwards.

      Glad you enjoyed PB. It’s pretty inspiring, hey? Now just trying to process everything afterwards, and where I want to change my blog up. x

      • Well done on holding it together so well. Now hopefully you can take some time for yourself.

        Tell me about it, I walked away wanting to fast forward 6 months, ditching my other businesses and just concentrate on blogging (my goal) I was so pumped lol. Mind you I have SO SO much to improve. Thanks again!

  32. Chantelle, I’m so, so sorry for your loss, for the loss of that family. I’m coming up to the one year anniversary of my brother’s death and I still feel it so raw and hot sometimes. You are truly amazing for continuing with your commitment to present your session with all of that emotion and stress inside. I hope Luella is ok.
    I am selfishly grateful that your session went ahead. You made me dance, cry, laugh, made my heart swell, made my brain buzz. It was just what I came to Problogger for. It cemented what I knew in my heart and needed reminding about, the reason why I blog and what I need to focus on. I was also so excited to meet you, so excited that I could barely speak the first time I saw you (yep, surrounded by carcasses!). I was just calling my sister today and telling her “I hugged Chantelle!” and she said “did you read her post today?”. So here I am, putting the pieces of your weekend together and how you must have been feeling in that moment. Sending big hugs.

    • Awww Kylie! I loved meeting you, even near the carcasses! And then going back to my room and realising who you were. Man, that was cool. See you at the next one. x

  33. good on you – with so much going on it could not have been easy. A good thing to remember ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you’

  34. I loved hearing your story Chantelle. You were one of my highlights. Good on you for doing such a great job with so much going on behind the scenes. x

  35. You totally rocked your presentation Chantelle! As someone sitting in your audience and watching and listening to you with awe, I can’t believe what you went through prior to your talk. You seriously are amazing, and inspired the hell out of me. Thank you!

  36. From all reports, you did it and you did it WELL!
    So bummed that I missed your PB speaking debut, but thrilled to hear that it all came together when you needed it to.
    So sorry to hear of your loss, he sounds like he knew how much you love him though.

  37. I was so excited to see you speak, Chantelle that I HAD to attend your talk, even though mine was immediately after and I was quietly wetting my pants through your whole (excellent) speech. Well done to you – pushing yourself forcibly out of your comfort zone! It was so worth it, I promise. x

  38. I’m like you, I trip over my words when I am nervous, so my latest challenge was a doozy! A local radio station asked me if I would do a weekly recipe segment. Everything from lunch box ideas to weeknight dinners. Ha! That was hilarious! But my husband (who was a radio announcer when I met him) urged me on……and I did it… it I mean. And I’m loving it. We pre-record, and I think that’s why I don’t get nervous. If it’s total crap we can scrap it and start again. Now the kindy where I work wants me to give a talk on healthy lunch boxes and do some cooking with the mums. You never know what you are capable of until you step out of your comfortable little box. Now to finish the overhaul of my website and get comfortable with sharing on my blog. How do you do that? I bet your talk was totally amazing and lots of fun

  39. Hi Chantelle, I didn’t get to see your session (I was one of the people in the other room hearing the laughter and seeing the tweets and wishing I was) and after hearing what you went through beforehand I really wish I had been there to say well done for being such a brave woman. I am very glad I found your site off the back of ProBlogger though and can’t wait to read more. Best, Jayne

  40. good on you telle for concurring your fears, Public speaking is my worst nightmare….. Please don’t tell me that that awful news is about who I think your talking about. Beyond sad!

  41. far out that’s a lot to deal with all at once! sorry to hear about your loss, and i hope luella is all better, you are one tough cookie xo

  42. Hi Chantelle – Isn’t it crazy how much anxiety can control our lives?! I spoke as part of the day 1 keynote, and I was petrified! I had the flu two weeks before the conference and actually said to myself in the days before, “Why couldn’t I get the flu right now?!” and that was not a nice flu in the least! But it seemed better than having to get up in front of 500 people to talk 😉 I’m glad that you made it through the experience (especially with everything else going on), and I bet you feel stronger for having done it. Congrats!

    • Oh I must have missed you! Next year I’m soaking up everything. I won’t miss a thing.

      It is crazy how much it can control it, but it’s it great when you go beyond it and do brave things? x

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