Posts Tagged ‘Fear’

The Last Laugh…

Posted: August 24, 2011 in Speeches, Toastmasters
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(This was my CC Project 5 – Your Body Speaks speech )

Disclaimer:

This speech is an unadulterated imaginary sneak peek into the speaker’s prospective future problem and any resemblance to any person dead or alive is purely coincidental.

The year was 2025, day Friday the 13th. Darkness was the flavor of the night. I was scared to death. What I saw now in my hands was something that I never wanted to see again in my life. It sent chills down my spines, made my blood run cold, and engulfed me with nightmares… I suffered from the same trauma exactly about 20 years ago. Now it has come back to haunt me again! Oh no… I was a victim then. Now it has come to take my little daughter. No.. No.. I have to stop this. I have to act. I have to react. My world is collapsing.

(Good evening Fellow Toastmasters & dear guests)

All this started when my darling wife decided to attend her dear friend’s wedding. Damn that friend. I was expecting my wife to explain about our family situation and her inability to attend the wedding. But even in 2025, wives never listen to their husbands. Had she been here, I would not have to do this (eerie pause).. Studying Maths! On Monday, my daughter who is studying in her 5th class has her Maths exam and I was left all alone to teach her Maths!

MATHS, MATHS, MATHS – The thought about Maths brought back all those dark days of my past when I suffered and Maths laughed at me, scoffed at me and mocked at me!

I was in my 5th class and I remember very well that I was on the verge of getting the first rank in my class for the first time in my life. Only Maths paper had to be distributed. Even before the paper was distributed, I was imagining myself being crowned the king of the class. My dear friend Pooja who sits beside me, knowing my day dreaming gimmicks, reminded me not to count the chickens before they are hatched. Guess what.. They never hatched.. I ended up getting a big egg! The king became a pauper in no time. My parents scolded me, my dad never bought me the video game he promised, my dog never ate seeing my sorrow and more than anything Pooja changed her place to my enemy Mithun’s place. Maths laughed.. I suffered.

From 6th to 12th I scrapped through every Maths paper. Passing a Maths paper was like climbing Mt. Everest. But more than passing every hurdle, the loss I suffered due to Maths was immense – girls who smiled at me, sympathized with me after they knew my Maths mark, teachers who hold me in high regards were always ready to loosen that grip when it came to Maths,   and my friends always had a good laugh over my mathematics skills. In short – Maths subtracted my happiness, multiplied my miseries, added to my sorrows and finally divided my girl friends. Maths scoffed.. I suffered.

By the time I managed to cross the 12th peak of my life, I was left with indelible mental scars in my mind and I decided no more Maths again in my life. But my father had other plans as he put me in an engineering college. Again Maths in my life! Oh!!!

With mixed feelings, I went to college. Nothing changed. Now maths was no more laughing, it started mocking at me. This college Maths was merciless and I kept accumulating arrears after arrears in Maths until I met my savior. Diya..! Yes..she was my savior and she has been till she left for her friend’s marriage yesterday. She was my classmate then and one good thing which ever happened due to Maths was Diya. Maths brought her close to me. Maths created that pity in her heart for me. She helped me clear each and every arrear paper. Though I did not get 90s, I did manage to get those lucky 36s and in the process managed to win her heart. If she was with me, I managed to do the impossible.

But today she left me all alone to fight this battle. I have one night to prepare and then two days to teach Maths. Saturday morning we began! My daughter and I prepared, prepared and prepared. The weekend flew. Never in my life had I learnt so much Maths in so little time and that too not for me. It felt as though I surpassed my own expectations.

The D day Monday came – I took leave from my office as I could not handle the tension this day brought. I accompanied my daughter to her school and waited there praying for her and especially for myself. Hours rolled by.. my daughter came out finally after finishing her exams. I dared not ask her how she did. She was smiling and I left it there to not press further.

After an anxious wait of one week, my daughter’s results came and my daughter got not 36 but 96. For one time in my life, I laughted at Maths, silently celebrating my daughter’s success.. no no.. my success with a roof top dinner in a five star hotel. Bring it on!

(This speech was given in the month of October 2010 in Chennai Wordsmiths Toastmasters Club.)

Fear of First Time

Posted: July 13, 2011 in Experience, Toastmasters
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It was a colorful Sunday evening and as usual the atmosphere in the park nearby my home was filled with enthusiasm, energy and enjoyment. It was a hub of activity similar to the Heathrow airport – children playing, parents running behind keeping pace with them, young and old people watching on as they were going about their walking and jogging exercises and few other onlookers like me who came to do ‘the’ one thing – relax!

I pushed myself in one corner of the park as my mind started wandering around the serene atmosphere. My eyes was capturing each and every image haphazardly until it came to a standstill looking at one little girl who was trying to climb the slide. For every step she took in the slide, she would throw a cautionary look towards her mother and her mother would return an assuring response.  This caution-assurance activity was happening for quite some time and I understood that this was the first time the child was climbing the slide. My curiosity reached sky high in waiting for this child to finish her slide ride. It took eons and eons. But in the end to my agony, the child stopped on the final step and started crying.  If that was not enough, she started climbing down the slide. My heart broke. What was the reason that made the child come down when she was agonizingly close to reaching what she desired? In life, similar to the little girl many of us would have stood on the hinge of achieving something for the first time but we gave up.

If we retrospect the many moments when we came down like the little girl, the one common reason behind all such moments would be the ‘FEAR’. This fear drowns us in a sea of self-doubts, envelops us with uncertainties and finally poses disturbing questions – What will be the outcome? Will it be worth the effort? Do I really have the ability? Will the world laugh at my mistakes? What will be the repercussions if I fail? Fear does strange things to human beings. But one has to remember that there is a threshold for everything in life and one cannot remain a slave to this fear lifelong. The first and the only thing which one has to do to break the shackles of fear is ‘ACT’.  Instead of overloading one’s mind with overflowing fears, one should step into the line of fire and act according to the situation, in short take the bull by its horns! Success or failure is anyway going to be a part and parcel of the deal. So worrying about the outcome even before trying is a cardinal sin.

Trying something gives us an invaluable experience and the fuel to move on. We may succeed or fail in the attempt, but at least there is learning when we try and this learning would help us approach things for the better. These actions we undertake set forth a thought process; the thought process gives us a valuable experience which in turn is useful when we embark on a new exploration. As a bonus of the act-think-experience cycle, one overcomes the fear of approaching new things slowly even without one’s knowledge and along the way would surely realize and device one’s own method towards exploring the unexplored.

When we draw parallels with Toastmasters about trying something new, every speech, every role and every leadership activity which one takes up is a new path towards reaching the same destination of becoming a fearless public speaker. In fact the joy doubles when one dons the same role for the second time and still manages to do it differently from his/her first attempt. Mistakes, failures and other shortcomings are going to happen along the journey. For example, one of your speeches may have hit the bull’s eye with the audience and another might not have reached the level as you expected. You may feel low on confidence to take up the next speech but viewing every speech as an attempt towards experimenting and expanding your boundaries would help you overcome such phases and make you understand your strengths and weakness. After all one learns with every speech given, every role enacted and every leadership activity led from the front.

Last but not the least; be eager, energetic and enthusiastic in each and every new activity you take up. Fears and failures are not to fret upon. March ahead and remember that behind every fear there is success waiting to hug you. Over come the fear and hug the success. I know the little girl who I saw in the park will one day break those shackles of fear and will hug success.

Keep Exploring! Keep Enjoying! Keep Evolving!

(This article was published in District 82 Toastmasters Annual Magazine – Ovations 2010.. This was one of the my very early articles)