Before I get to the main point of this post, there are a couple of things you should know about me.
1) I generally try to avoid making myself the centre of attention whenever possible. At my own 25th birthday party I stayed indoors and effectively ‘hid’ from my guests. I don’t sing in public (for other people’s own good) and I avoid doing any kind of presentation at work.
The exception to this wallflower rule is my love of fancy dress, which usually involves me going out on the town in some kind of flamboyant, eye-catching creation and dancing the night away. I think this is probably the exception to the rule because I can pretend I am someone else, thus saving myself embarassment.
2) I take New Year’s Resolutions pretty seriously. They’re usually not to do with giving anything up, more about self-improvement and adding things to my life. Last year’s was to learn the Beyonce Single Ladies dance, which is ridiculously complicated. Suffice it to say I didn’t quite manage it, but I continue to learn little bits of it here and there, so who knows, one day I might know the whole thing off by heart.
This year’s NYRs were a little different – and I made four of them. Only one memory challenge this year (though I regret to inform you, dear readers, that I have yet to start memorising) but the rest were all about improving myself:
a) Do yoga at least five days out of seven – this is still happening, and it’s great to have a good ol’ stretch after a long hard day sitting in front of the computer
b) Get comfortable with people invading my personal space – this is a strange one because I seem to still be giving out ‘don’t touch me’ vibes, meaning that hardly anyone has wanted to invade my personal space in the first place. Must try harder!
c) Memorise pi to at least 50 places – Yeah, I’ll get around to this one of these days. Memorising numbers and sequences is a forte of mine so I’m expecting this one to be pretty easy.
d) Join in with activities that I might otherwise regret not participating in – Ah, the big one, and the reason for this blog post. Too often I sit on the sidelines of events and activities, not wanting to join in for fear of making an idiot of myself.
Recently it was announced that we had to do a presentation at work to the other 50-60 people in the company, on the utterly thrilling subject of ‘office admin’ and how the rest of the company could help to make the lives of us administrators a bit easier. My immediate reaction was along the lines of, ‘I’ll do the presentation and techy bits for you but I am *not* joining in’. Hmm. So much for Resolution #4. It occurred to me a day or so later that here at last was a perfect opportunity to join in with an activity that I might otherwise regret not participating in. So, I insisted that I be given a small speaking part in said presentation.
In an attempt to make it a bit more ‘fun’ than your average boring Powerpoint presentation, and because we needed to get our points across without being preachy, we made a conscious effort to include pop culture references (including Toy Story, Doctor Who, The Bill and lolcats), funny little role-play sketches and interactive segments. We even handed out admin-themed puzzle sheets (more interesting than they sound) with sweets as prizes for the first few people to finish. You’ve never seen a room full of grown adults concentrate as much as my colleagues did when we handed out the puzzles! There was utter silence but for the scratching of pens on paper for a good five minutes.
My role in all this was 1) to create the Powerpoint slides (which notably had a materialising TARDIS, Toy Story style title, sound effects galore and a clever mnemonic), 2) to participate in one sketch playing a member of the admin team helping one of our colleagues, a speaking role that I apparently managed not to mess up and 3) a non-speaking role that involved donning a brown hat and stripy scarf and pretending to be Doctor Who as played by Tom Baker.
Well, though I was hugely nervous beforehand the whole thing seemed to pass without a hitch, and indeed we had many people come up to us afterwards to say just how good they thought it was! I’ll admit I’ve blanked most of it out now but I actually enjoyed participating, and of course the main point was that I joined in.
The title of this post is Great Expectations. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that my expectations of myself need some adjustment. I expected to hate participating, getting up in front of loads of people and speaking, expected to get it wrong or mess up or just embarass myself. But when it came to it, I didn’t hate any of it. I enjoyed it. Next time there’s a presentation or some public speaking to do I won’t have the excuse that, ‘I don’t do that’.
Maybe I should try that with more things in my life.
PS I’ve just discovered another NYR that I’d forgotten about, which was to moderate my use of my infamous ‘death stare’, a kind of glare/look that makes grown men flinch and small children cry. This hasn’t happened. No wonder everyone still looks terrified!