First Times

Posted on: Dec 01, 2015

Last week I tried two new things for the first time, both of which were scary for very different reasons. Public speaking and skiing.

Mountain imageSkiing comes with a fear of physical injury. Skiing is the sort of activity that requires helmets and special insurance, and I personally know someone who sustained a really nasty head-injury from snowboarding that affected him for years afterwards. Public speaking, on the other hand, comes with a fear of mental injury, with the potential for embarrassment that could result in a well –bruised ego.

So why put myself though these anxiety-inducing activities?

Crowd imagePublic speaking is something I’ve wanted to do since I became self-employed. I often find myself tongue-tied at networking events when asked a simple question like ‘what do you do?’, and would hate to stand up and explain my business. I’d love to be confident enough to deliver a speech in front of a crowded room, or maybe down the line do some training. It feels like it would open up a lot of opportunities, as well as being an extra skill.

On Wednesday I went along to a meeting of Spa Speakers, part of the Toastmasters International organisation. As a guest, I got to sit and listen to the members as they practised their public speaking and evaluated each other. Then my confidence was really tested when I was asked to stand up and give an impromptu talk on the subject of life after death. Talk about going in at the deep end! It was the longest 2 minutes of my life, but I managed it and even got a few laughs from the ‘audience’ (which I was especially proud of considering the heavy subject matter).  I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it, and am now considering becoming a member in the New Year.

The skiing lessons were an altogether more necessary endeavour, as the other half and I are booked on a holiday in La Plagnes in just over a month. As I’ve said, skiing is well and truly out of my comfort zone. People get hurt skiing. It’s expensive. You have to wear unflattering utilitarian clothing. Also, there’s no beaches.

On Friday we went to Snozone in Milton Keynes for an intensive day of skiing lessons. It's not entirely accurate to say it was my first time skiing; I’ve had an hour long lesson (which mainly consisted of shimmying up the slope like an Arctic crab) as well as a bit of time on those horrible hexagonal dry ski slopes as a child, but this was my first time skiing proper. This time I actually got a feel for it. Helped by the World’s Friendliest Skiing Instructor, after a mere (!) six hours of practice, starting with learning how to put the dammed ski boots on, I was happily skiing down from the top of the learner’s slope.  I stayed upright the whole time and, although I was probably going at a snail’s pace compared to experienced skiers, I felt like I was gliding down the slope with the greatest of ease and the wind in my hair. Feedback from the instructor: ‘elegant skier, good posture’. Result.

Two new experiences, two potential new hobbies. Both of which I was reluctant to even try in the first place…lesson learnt. 

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