A Promise to Speak Up

You know when you make a promise and, until you keep it, you’re always sort of subconsciously plagued by it? Well, that plagued feeling is made even more evident when you make a promise to do something you don’t enjoy doing, and you see the person who you made the promise to all of the time.

 But keeping a promise is something that’s important to me.

But keeping a promise is something that’s important to me. That’s why when it came to a promise I made to David Angelo when I first started working at David&Goliath almost five years ago, I knew one day I would fulfill it. This is that story.

The promise was to confront a big Goliath of mine—public speaking.

The promise was to confront a big Goliath of mine—public speaking. When David and I first met, as often happens with people who meet David, we got to talking about Goliaths. I told him mine was public speaking and he said to me, “One day you’re going to get up in front of everyone in this agency and talk.” I reluctantly agreed, making the promise that, one day, I would. That “one day” part of the promise made the pressure a little lighter, which is why I can’t honestly say every time I saw David Angelo I was thinking of my Goliath promise, but subconsciously it was always there.

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If I had to pinpoint why I feel this way, it would probably be for two reasons. First of all, English is not my first language—it’s Korean. So when I hear English, I have to translate it to Korean in my head, think of what I want to say in Korean, then translate that into English. It happens much faster in reality than it does in explanation, but it does make me fear that I won’t say the right thing at the right time. In addition to this, I don’t like being the center of attention. The eyes, the spotlight, the attention…all of it on me. Not fun.

It’s not like I’ve never been in front of an audience before. From 7th-11th grade, I played a Korean musical instrument, the dae-kum, and had monthly recitals. While it wasn’t public speaking, I was always really nervous right before I’d go on stage. But I had to do it. I couldn’t back out, I couldn’t call in sick, I had to get up and perform, in front of everyone—or I’d get a zero and fail the class. Those feelings bring me to the situation I was in with my Goliath promise.

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My time at David&Goliath has flown by. Before I knew it, the moment had arrived for me to move on to a new chapter in my life, so I put in my two weeks notice. I went to talk to David about my departure, still aware of the promise I had made to him when I first started. We talked for a bit and, inevitably, my Goliath came up. He asked me, “Do you remember what I said to you when you first started here?” I responded, “Yes.” He asked, “So, what do you think? We have an agency meeting coming up before you leave, is this something you feel you’ll be able to do at the meeting?” I knew I had to do this—I couldn’t let David down—but it was something I wanted to do for myself, too. So, I agreed.

I recalled some advice from my coworker Beth moments before. I was in front of a group of people I had worked with for the past five years, and she told me “Don’t be afraid, you’re just talking to friends.

I wrote a speech the night before, practiced it and was going to try to read it in front of everyone. Then I decided it might be better, both for my nerves and what I was trying to say, if I just spoke without a script. Five o’clock rolled around and everyone in the office came together for our agency meeting. I was totally calm before he called me up, but as always, the moment he said my name the nerves kicked in. Then I recalled some advice from my coworker Beth moments before. I was in front of a group of people I had worked with for the past five years, and she told me “Don’t be afraid, you’re just talking to friends.” That made me more comfortable with the situation. So I got up, spoke in front of everyone for a few minutes, and that was that.

It wasn’t really as bad as I had built it up to be.

I will always hate public speaking. Every time I have to do it, I get a little scared of misspeaking. Honestly, it’s just not something I enjoy. But after speaking in front of everyone at David&Goliath, and staying true to my promise, I feel I will have much more confidence in the future. This wasn’t something I wanted to do, but in the end it was something that was beneficial to me. I took a little chip out of my fear by facing my Goliath, and that’s what counts.