It was the first Wednesday of July, 2007. Fourteen year old me was backstage, sweat dripping off her forehead, stomach in knots that wouldn’t untangle despite her many yawns and pep talks. She was terrified.
One week earlier, her youth pastor had asked her to speak to the church congregation about the mission trip the youth group had just returned from. Her youth pastor knew she had a huge fear of public speaking, and challenged her to conquer that fear.
Fourteen year old me agreed, feeling the panic rise within her. For a solid week, she prepared. She painstakingly wrote a speech, threw it all out, and started over. She practiced in front of the mirror with a timer. She memorized her speech backwards and forwards. She stressed out for one solid week.
As she paced backstage, fourteen year old me felt like throwing up. She could hear her youth pastor begin to introduce her. Tears welled up in her eyes, I can’t do this! Her name was called, and she apprehensively walked onto the stage.
Her speech was shaky, and she had a nervous lisp. She was barely able to get her first two sentences past the giant lump in her throat. She thanked her leaders and had the audience give them a round of applause, buying herself a moment or two to compose herself. Fourteen year old me then went for it.
She talked with passion, not with eloquence, about her trip and what changed her. She even left the audience with a challenge. As fourteen year old me left the stage, she almost burst into tears. She actually did it. She didn’t lose her dinner on stage. She remembered her speech. She made people think.
Fear conquered, mostly.
How many left?