The past four weeks we’ve gone on a journey! The Toastmasters speech contest Journey to be exact.
Now that the contest is long gone, what now? Fair question.
Today I'm going to share with you how I felt after the contest ended. I call it the contest hangover, but don't get it twisted. Don't confuse it with an alcohol-induced hangover, the opposite in fact.
Simply put: I felt lighter than the ash of a feather. I felt like I escaped from a meat grinder.
Free to enjoy the little things in life. I was able to focus on the trees, the mountains, the nuances of life, the things I couldn’t see during the contest.
I had been so focused on the contest that even subconsciously it was putting my brain in a vice. I had put so much pressure on myself to not screw it all up (I am a recovering perfectionist after all).
I'll give you some examples of what my life was like during the contest.
With every trip in my car I had the question creep up in my mind of whether or not I should practice my speech. 90% of the time I did. And believe me, that was a tough decision to make because I love listening to my music—one of my favorite things to do in life.
I signed up to speak in other Toastmasters clubs to practice my speech, at least once a week in the weeks leading up to the contest. Some weeks more.
And let’s not forget about the stress leading up to these contests! The anticipation and “what-ifs” did not suddenly take a break. The contests themselves provided their own unique challenges, mentally. The new clubs I spoke at for the sake of practice also invoked nervousness. Sure, not as much as the contests, but still to a lesser degree.
To top it off, I had never had so much “schedule” in my life. My weeks were suddenly being planned...in advance! My point is, I didn’t realize how much baggage was hitching a ride on my shoulders during the contest, and I only found out once the contest had swept me out of the ring.
Do i regret it?
Not even close. To be clear, I’m not bitchin’ about it. I would happily do it all over again with double the workload.
The week that followed the contest was pure bliss. That’s the only way I can describe it with words. Nothing bothered me at all. I wish I could conjure that feeling whenever I pleased because it was beautiful. I would pay to feel that way. That would be a hell of a service. It would be like happiness prostitution.
Apart from that, it was an amazing experience—a life changing one for me. I am beyond grateful for the experience. Absolutely priceless. To be able to get all of that experience condensed into roughly three months was simply incredible. That is the real prize that I walked away with.
I didn’t win the contest obviously, well, technically I won a few rounds of a bigger contest, but not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
If I would have won, I would have had a massive problem. I would have needed to come up with a 2nd speech and I hadn’t a clue. The anxiety of that might have eaten me alive.
Needless to say, I put in the time during the contest. I promised myself that I would do my best, and I did. I have no regrets about entering, even after falling short. I exceeded my wildest expectations simply by winning my club level contest; the rest was just delicious globs of cookie dough on top of a chocolate sundae.
And I learned from watching the winner who was very dedicated, competitive as well. Maybe I’ll get to that point of competitiveness, or not. It was a self-competition in my eyes, not to say I didn’t respect the abilities of the other contestants, I certainly did, but ultimately it was I who had to show up and perform. I felt that I was able to do my part.
Will I do it again? Maybe. My wife certainly doesn’t want to go through it all over again.
Wait a minute...
One more question just came to me...what hell was the point of this post???
Good question brain. It was a little bit of venting about the experience, which can help you get an understanding of what it would mean to enter the contest in the future—should you decide to.
Lastly, it’s a challenge to you. Yes you, thou that’s reading this holy blog. Public speaking is challenging, and putting yourself in a stressful situation will force you to grow.
I hate having to use the word “grow” or “growth,” I really do. It’s a vague term, but in this case its meaning is precise. You will grow in ways you can’t even imagine.
Be aware of the next situation where you might be called upon to speak and put yourself out there in front of others. Or better yet, seek out an opportunity to speak. Like intentionally. An excellent option is to join a Toastmasters club near you.
It’s the simplest and safest way to get stage time and to experience all that public speaking has to offer you.
And that's all I have to say about that [read in Forrest Gump's voice].
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About this guy...
Howdy! My name is Matt Kramer and I used to suffer excruciating death when speaking in front of a group, now I LOVE it. Overcoming this fear has changed my life and it can change yours, too. My focus is to help you overcome the fear of public speaking so you can build the confidence to go after what you want in life.