Things I am not good at #1

Presentations. This long-held belief was confirmed while giving up a couple of days of holiday to standing up on podiums (I had to look up that plural and it doesn’t seem right) and pontificating at other people. My appearance at one event was thrust upon me by my manager, who was booked to speak but couldn’t make it and blithely decided that since I would be in England, I could be his stand in. The second talk was entirely my own fault: a friend asked as a favour and employed Machiavellian flattery and the offer of dinner into the bargain. And since I was stuck with doing one presentation already, I thought the additional event could be practice.

I don’t know What. The. Fuck. I was thinking. I really dislike being the focus of attention of a roomful of people, although I can more or less handle it in a work capacity. I’m much happier even socialising in small groups, or ideally one on one. Additionally, I get precisely zero enjoyment from doing things I’m not good at, and I’d say I had a pretty accurate assessment of my own ability in this area. Both talks were in week 2 of my holiday, and so however much I tried to thrust them from my mind, their looming reality did on occasion cast a bit of a cloud.

It’s not that I was waking up from screaming nightmares, it was more an ongoing low level anxiety that gradually ratcheted up to extreme as the specific days drew closer. Now that I attempt to find an analogy, it was exactly the same feeling as accompanied attendance at all my maths classes when I was at KEHS. That’s it! I hate presentations as much as I hate maths! And since I get through life more or less without maths, I am pretty sure I can get through life entirely without presentations.

Anyway, I survived both, of course. No one openly laughed at me, I didn’t fall off my own heels and that was about all I was hoping for. So you’d think it was all over and done with, right? But no; because my own mediocre to poor performance still bothers me, so now I have completely pointless retrospective anxiety to occupy me when I wake up in the middle of the night. I’m annoying myself with this crap, and I can’t seem to break the loop.

So, chaps, time to share. What stresses you out, even though you know it’s such a silly thing to worry about? And what do you do about it?

Author: musingsfromthesofa

I've run out of books. Again.

9 thoughts on “Things I am not good at #1”

  1. I’ve ruined several holidays by aligning them with academic conferences where I was speaking. I used to be quite good at giving papers, but it didn’t prevent the dread, or the postmortem! But what really stresses me are health issues. I only have to get something new wrong with me and I am freaking out about my imminent demise. I can even do this for my son and husband if they fall ill – hypochondria on behalf of another person seems ludicrous even to me, but still I do it. My usual response is to look up the symptom on the internet, and reading all those posts by crackpots and people who seem to have the most extreme health difficulties can often bring me to my senses. Not always, though.

  2. I bet your performance was way better than you think, given how good your practice run was :o)
    If something can be stressed about, I will stress about it. That pretty much covers it.

  3. Hmmm…can’t address this in a mere comment. Will have to write my own post. I bet, though, you did a great job. I know you well enough to know that you’re your own worst critic. Also, I am extremely impressed that you did such things while on vacation. For me, volunteering to give public speeches while on vacation would be like vulunteering to be exposed to the swine flu while on vacation.

  4. Litlove – Oh, that’s tough. At least you’ve figured out something that usually helps you get over the worry, though.

    Ruth – You are too kind! And also clearly, too stressed. Calm down, love.

    Emily – I look forward to the post! Don’t be impressed. If I ever mention doing anything that stupid again, I depend on my friends to slap some sense into me!

  5. I hate retrospective anxiety — and what a good term for it. I get completely and utterly stressed at … um … everything, pretty much. Yoga helps 🙂

  6. I often stress like this over emails. Emails I need to send and emails I’ve sent already. It drives me crazy. I’ve never had to give a presentation like yours, but I am sure I would have been equally anxious.

  7. Dor – Yoga is the only thing keeping me sane at the moment, I think. An hour or two a week of calm and concentration.

    ZM – Email, really? Poor you.

    The conclusion I am coming to here is that we are all way too stressed about inconsequentialities!

  8. I’m in the “everything stresses me” category too, esp. presentations and math. But my worst stresses are usually anticipating doctor visits (no real cause to worry but I can go from “normal checkup” to “imminent demise” or “intensely painful procedure” in no time flat. I also have begun to loathe anything associated with job hunting, and the thought of having to go on interviews anymore makes me want to crawl under my bed and hide.

  9. Debby – Between you and Litlove I am now grateful not to have medically related stress. You have my sympathy. Job hunting does entirely suck. Fingers crossed that your new venture means you don’t have to put up with that hiding under the bed feeling!

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