I have finally spoken in front of strangers. I performed at Mixed Monologues with a poem that was very personal to me. Before I went up, I had an anxiety attack. As my name was called and I walked up I could feel my legs shaking and I was worried I wasn’t going to make it all the way to the microphone without falling on my face or vomiting. Somehow though, I did manage to make it, and say my poem. As I started, I realized I was much more prepared than I had thought I was. I had met with Avital multiple times, practiced with my friends, classmates and roommates, redrafted, edited and memorized my poem, tried speaking out in public, and did jumping jacks before I arrived at the event. I feel like all that definitely paid off.

The initial adrenaline rush gave way to a calm that allowed me to finish the rest of my poem. I looked out into the crowd and saw the entire TOTUS class cheering me on, giving me thumbs up, and snapping at the parts that were especially meaningful to me. It was the best feeling in the world. The rest of the audience responded favorably to my poem as well, but it didn’t matter as much as my TOTUS family rooting for me. When I finished my poem, I felt the anxiety come back as I felt a drop from the high that I got from performing. But, as I walked down the aisle to the back, I got a hug from everyone in class, and it all felt good. It felt like all of this had paid off, and that I had accomplished something I never would have dreamed of had I not taken this class.

This performance had a tremendously positive impact on me. Firstly, I feel much better about speaking in front of people and crowds (I still get very nervous, but at least now I know I can do it). This experience definitely helped me speak more clearly, and learn how to use my words and tone for more impact. This is a skill that will benefit me regardless of what kind of public speaking I’m doing. Another thing this helped me feel was acceptance and validation with my works and my experiences. I put a lot of personal feelings in my poem, a lot of emotion that I wasn’t able to say in any other medium, but everyone’s support helped me realize that it was worth saying. And for that, this experience was, for me, life-changing.