On having an audience…

…I have to give a presentation tomorrow. Which, presumably you already know, as I’ve been venting about it to anyone I come across who’ll listen – friends, housemates, people in the street – because giving presentations is really, really Not. My. Thing.

If you enjoy speaking in front of an audience, you’re a freak. Unless you’re a stand-up comedian, in which case I probably fancy you a little bit. You’re still a bit of a freak though.

Yes, I’m a massive drama queen, but presentations really are everything I hate about life, condensed into one hideous little time slot. (Apart from jellyfish. I also REALLY hate them but thankfully they’ve never got involved in any talk I’ve done.)

As I was saying.

Everything I hate about life – being the centre of attention (contrary to popular belief), the sound of my own voice (ditto), trying to sound intelligent, being asked questions*, having people watch me do stuff…

Hey, I never said I wasn’t a coward.

*I really don’t like this. I get funny when people ask me about my eating habits, so anything more complex than that is going to be a non-starter.

I don’t like having an audience. I’m an observer, not a player. I watch, I make smart-ass observations, I write them down, I put them on the internet. There’s a reason I’m a Linguistics geek, it’s ’cause I write far better than I talk… it doesn’t really bode well, does it? Never mind. Working behind a bar a couple of summers ago was, for me, the emotional equivalent of being plunged into ice-cold water – I had an audience most of the time. And when I didn’t, I was being shouted at by an angry chef. I would say it toughened me up a little, but I’m not sure it did.

I fantasise about winning an Ivor Novello, not a Grammy. (You can figure that one out yourselves. And I suppose I’d take the Grammy, you know, if they were going to insist…) Even the osteopath I used to go to – following an incident where the plan was to go over the jump together, but the horse had other ideas – said, “I get the feeling you don’t like having an audience”. No idea what prompted this conversation, but he turned into more of a therapist anyway. Who gave exquisitely good back massages. (Don’t make it weird.)

I can’t even handle people watching me cook.(I do love watching other people cook though. Mainly attractive males. Who are cooking something more complicated than scrambled eggs. That’s pretty hot.)

I spend a significant proportion of my time writing songs and playing guitar, or attempting to, and have been doing so for about ten years. How many people have heard me play my own songs? Two.

I can fake a fair few things, but right now, confidence does not seem to be one of them.

What I probably need is tough love. Man the hell up, get on with it, it’s not a big deal, et cetera. All of which I’ve already said to myself, repeatedly, and none of which is succeeding in drowning out that bitchy little voice in my head that’s going, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. They’re going to be judging you. You’re going to be standing in front of lots of people, hot-faced and dry-mouthed, and it’s going to go horribly, horribly wrong.” (Is anyone else’s internal monologue this cruel?) My problem is, I assume that if people are watching, then they must automatically be judging, and deeming me a failure. In reality – and in the ever-diminishing part of my brain labelled “rational, logical thought like what normal people have” – I know damn well people are far more concerned about their own issues and worries than anybody else’s. I still can’t shake the chilly, nauseating feeling of panic, that’s not going to subside until this is over, and I have a stiff drink in front of me.

Wish me luck! I am aware that I’m not exactly heading off to battle, or starting off on a trek through the Amazon, or about to enter into a political debate with Boris Johnson. Just, you know, I need all the help I can get. 

I would leave you with a song but this was meant to be a quick post. Incidentally, I’ve listened to Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars so many times that someone needs to take it off me and not let me play with it for a while. It’s just too good.

Ciao for now.

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