Friday night was book launch night for my recently published short story collection Soaring. As the date drew closer my levels of anxiety and worry increased as I wrestled with my inner demons. Would anyone even turn up, what if people didn’t like it, what if I froze and couldn’t utter a word? Round and round these thoughts went supported by the usual self doubt and impostor syndrome beliefs that I carry. At one point I wondered if I could get away with cancelling it – after all, it wouldn’t really matter would it? Said the little voice in my head.
Thankfully, for once, I didn’t listen. The few hours leading up to the book launch were dreadful. I felt nauseous and on edge, I wanted to bolt out of the house and run away. Public speaking has for as long as I can remember been my nemesis. What happened next is a bit of a mystery, and still a bit blurry if I’m honest. All I know is that as soon as the first guests began to arrive I started to feel OK. Gone were the inner voices, gone was the unease. I had a job to do and I was determined to do it to the best of my ability. Genuinely I started to relax and enjoy myself. I’m told by those who were there that I was confident, full of humour and everyone enjoyed it. I read three of my short stories to the audience, did an interview with fellow author Rosie Canning, and after the Q&A signed lots of copies of Soaring.
I’m writing this post as encouragement to those of you who also fear stepping out of your comfort zone whatever form that may take. Sometimes things just feel too hard or too overwhelming, or the voice in your head seems to confirm your worst fears agreeing with you that you can’t do it, or it won’t work. My advice – do it in spite of yourself but I now realise that the only thing that was standing in my way was me!
At one point in the evening I remember looking around at everyone and wondering why it had taken me so long to do an event like this as I was really really enjoying myself. Of course we all have our demons and our personal battles, but I want to encourage you to really push beyond yourself talk and do the thing that scares you the most because it’s true what they say – just beyond your comfort zone is where the magic really does begin.