These past couple of years have been all about pushing the boundaries for me. Taking risks, doing things that scare me to the bone, but going through anyway. Fighting boredom and persevering. Digging my heels into the ground, and reminding myself why I started, especially when things start to look iffy. Oh boy, some days I just want to sleep in and forget all about it. And then I manage to find that grit somehow – the sort of determination that I was lacking throughout my teens and early 20s.
Here’s something that I do differently now, vis-a-vis then. I recently joined the Toastmasters’ chapter at my workplace. Turns out the company pays for my membership if I manage to prove myself worthy and use the membership to its full benefit. I see absolutely no problem with this – I gave up public speaking after college partially because I was not getting feedback on how to improve my voice, arguments, and language. Nothing could make me lose interest and motivation faster than being told that I’m doing great. Unfortunately for me, our debating club at college didn’t have the right kind of mentors – at least, not while I was there. I won’t get petty, but our debating president wasn’t exactly well-spoken, either.
Here’s what I like about Toastmasters’ – there is a clear path to growth. There is a community to give you feedback. There are opportunities in every meeting to reveal a new aspect of yourself.
I have attended 4 meetings till date, and am yet to be offered a membership. I have spoken on a table topic at 3, and received good reviews. Most were about my comfort with being on stage, body language, vocabulary, use of humour (wut!), and my ability to think on my feet. Here’s why I keep going back – I am usually shivering when it’s my turn to receive feedback. I can hear my voice audibly quiver when I start talking. I am never creative enough with my speech; it’s rarely, if ever, headed in a direction that I hope to take it in. I never manage to remember to use the word/phrase/idiom of the day in my speech, although it usually isn’t that hard. My use of humour is very polite and rather passe: hardly the sort that manages to get my attention when others are talking. I use ‘umms’, ‘uhhs’ and other fillers. And boy do those prepared speeches teach me so much: I can’t wait to get to deliver one!
I have realized that extrinsic motivation only motivates me so much: what really matters to me is growth and my own brutally honest analysis of it. If I’m not pleased with myself, nobody else’s praise or pressure is ever going to matter to me. Realizing that has made all the difference.