Sometimes it’s good to do the scary thing. I don’t mean leaping out of a plane or partaking in a spot of free running, although I’m sure they have their merits.
I’m talking about doing something relatively ordinary that frightens you.
Speaking in public has never been my thing, in fact I’ve avoided it at all costs. I don’t even mean speaking in front of an audience – it only needed to be more than two or three people and I was a mess. What helped me enormously was joining a writer’s group and reading out something I’ve written every week. I still blush which is quite ridiculous for a woman of my age. When I was a teenager and thought about the future firstly I imagined that there would be no such thing as racism because only old people were racist and secondly that as a sophisticated grown up I would never blush again. Life’s full of disappointment, isn’t it?
At the same time there are nuggets of joy lurking around every corner. For me, finding out that it’s possible to learn to do almost anything, even when you’re older has been a game changer as well as discovering that the brain is at its most receptive and productive when you try to do something that you find difficult. Practice is all very well, but if you practice the same thing over and over again you won’t move forward. Stepping out of your comfort zone apparently is the way forward.
So I leapt out of mine and made a podcast. Not much of a big deal though, is it? Sitting on your own talking into a microphone, how hard could that be? Well let me tell you. It took me about a week to actually get my bum in the chair opposite the mic. That week had been spent researching all aspects of podcasting, do I need a new mic? Maybe that room won’t be quiet enough? Single person podcasts are rarely any good, why bother? I was desperately trying to conjure up a good reason NOT to embark on this madness. Eventually time ran out and I found myself staring into the abyss that is a microphone pop filter, gulping.
No word of a lie it took me two days to record 30 seconds of audio. Saying the same words over and over again, deleting it because I sounded pathetic and stupid. Why was my voice so WEIRD? I could not understand what was stopping me and I had plenty of time between takes to analyse what was going on. The fear of criticism seemed to be what was holding me back, both my own and others. My inner critic was working overtime, whispering in my ear, reminding me of family members who revel in public humiliation. They’re going to love this, aren’t they? Who does she think she is? Those thoughts teamed up with the hyper-critical voices from childhood. You need to know your place. Chatter, chatter, chatter.
So I had to rethink. I reminded myself of learning to draw and realising how it was totally unrealistic to think I could know how to draw on day one. It needed practice. Why did I think that podcasting would be any different?
As the days went on it got easier and eventually I could sit in front of the microphone and not feel like crying.
I look back at my ugly drawings in the early days and how I posted them online anyway, taking pleasure and pride in the act of completing them. I did get some nasty comments but I did it anyway. Posting the ugly has been amazing because it has been a tangible demonstration of progress and the most rewarding thing is that I know it has encouraged others to start or continue their art journey. How cool is that?
So following in that tradition, I present to you my ugly first podcast! It’s the story of my three times great uncle Jabez Rainbow and his heinous crime, complete with nervous narration and dodgy editing. I’ll get better!
It’s available to the world on Apple podcasts, ie iTunes, and Spotify.
You can find it here where you’ll also find links to your favourite podcast platform. Enjoy!