There I am, complete frozen and unable to speak, I’m shivering and with my heart about to explode in front of an audience in the north pole, at least that’s how Sweden felt back then coming all the way from the warm seas of Venezuela. After a couple of years of a very strict selection process, I was given the incredible opportunity to represent my country as an exchange student. All I wanted since I was five, and at the age of 16, it finally happened; yes, dreams do come true.
And dreams can also vanish very quickly. After not being able to speak, I apologised to the
audience and left the auditorium. My first shot, and I blew it. “I’m a complete failure, I just ridiculed myself, they must think I’m stupid because I couldn’t even start after so much preparation”, and so my self-defeating dialogue continued.
That same night, I’m about to pick up the phone to tell my parents in Venezuela that I’m
going back. I had already rehearsed what I was going to say, “Mum, Dad, this is not for me, I don’t think I can do it and want to fly home right now”. As I’m about to dial, a memory came to mind, my teacher from high school telling me, Ucar, to succeed in life, you only need two things, to read the newspaper and to master public speaking. Don’t ask me how it happened, but I’m glad it did.
At that moment, like a beam of light came the image of my English teacher in Sweden, an
incredible person who kept us entertained, laughing and engaged while learning loads
during his lessons.
The next morning there I am speaking to him, sharing my embarrassing story, to which he
laughed, strangely taking the edge off of the whole situation. At that point, he shared three things with me:
- Speak in short, simple and succinct sentences until you gain more fluency in English and Swedish. I wanted to present in both languages.
- Use visuals to help you remember and to support your points. Great, I thought because I had brought loads of posters showing nature, landscapes and more.
- Focus on your audience and have a good time with them.
That was a completely new beginning for me. I went back to the same auditorium and
knocked the audience’s socks off. I went on to present throughout the country as I was
supposed to, and the rest is history.
I could’ve given up, and who knows where I’d be right now. I’m very glad I didn’t. I’m grateful I listened to that quiet voice inside my head that guided me through my moment of despair.
Next time you are faced with failure, quiet down and listen to the wisdom that you carry
within, look to learn from the situation and remember to ask for help.