This happened 16 years ago. But the details are as fresh as yesterday. I was in the second class of Junior Secondary School – what Americans would call 7th grade.
I was ready to represent my class as a lead speaker in a school debate with the 6th grade /JS1 class – our juniors. I cannot remember the topic but I do remember being excited and preparing so hard for it —I researched, gathered and practiced my points with my uncle at home until I felt as ready as anything. Set to beat ‘em all!
But on the D-day, standing before the large audience of students, teachers and the principal, as the lead speaker of my team, my confidence and enthusiasm disappeared instantly, because after the last syllable of my very impressive opening speech, my tongue locked itself.
I froze. Could not get the next word out. No. For several awkward moments, I struggled, my mind racing through the points, unable to voice them out. Everyone watched in anticipation, ostensibly praying that I would find my voice. My teammates must have been boiling furiously.
To be clear, I did not forget what I had to say. It was just that the words got stuck under my tongue. What you would call a stutter. Each second felt like a heavy weight on my chest.
Hmm… I wish I could tell you I recovered. I didn’t.
After a while, I couldn’t bear the audience’s piercing looks and wide mouths any longer. I walked off the stage, and wept sore at the back of the hall. With the lead speaker gone with all the major points, I learned my team lost the competition. Because of me. So it was a shameful loss because everyone expected us to beat the class junior to ours.
The shame was so unbearable that I did not return to school for the rest of the semester.
I vowed to myself —I would never speak in public again.
We all panic.
We all doubt ourselves.
We all have weaknesses.
And we all want to make an impact in our world.
Today on StoryVox, using one of the worst ordeals of my life, I’m sharing why it’s okay to panic. Why it’s okay to doubt yourself —at first.
And why it’s not okay to stop there.
Listen now on your favorite podcast platform.
“And because God gives us the opportunity to panic at first, we must then give God the opportunity to dispel the “I can’t” in our minds and show himself faithful.”
It’s available on most podcast platform. Just type StoryVox Podcast.