You may find it hard to believe, but I’m an introvert. When I made my 2016 resolution to speak more and do a TED talk one day, it shows how far I’ve come speaking to others and how much further I want to take myself.
When I moved to the U.S. from Japan in 1989, the language barrier created enormous anxiety. Words frightened me. I excelled at sports and math (except word problems!) but English classes instilled so much fear in me that I started talking less and less. Eventually I turned into a shy child, unlike my former self in Japan.
But, at age 40, I decided it was time to turn that around. While I am comfortable behind the camera and interacting with clients one on one, I decided to transform that shy child into a bonafide public speaker. Thanks to Underwater Transformation, I’ve been lucky to have been interviewed by many media outlets all over the world. Trust me, it’s isn’t easy. Every time I speak, my stomach feels like I have those little sardines you see swimming in swarms at the aquarium in it (you may call them butterflies, but as a child of water they are fish to me!). Just last month I was interviewed by Helpsy, and even with all the interviews I have done, I still got nervous.
I sometimes find myself asking the interviewers to send their questions via email. It not only gives me more time to answer the questions, but it helps keep the sardines at bay. I’ve been so lucky that all of my interviewers have done a wonderful job to make me feel comfortable (just like I do with survivors at a photography shoot). Sometimes my nerves make me tell stupid jokes, but sometimes I overcome and the sardines swim away and I genuinely smile and laugh.
In keeping with my resolution, I’m taking future interviews only in person or over the phone. I believe in myself. If I keep trying, talking, evolving and growing, I’ll reach the point where I want to be. I will continue to fight to improve my self confidence with public speaking as long as my heart is still beating. I will talk at TED one day. One day those sardines will swim away for good and will only say hello when I visit them at the aquarium.