“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld.

Although I am not that bad, public speaking is not my favorite thing. As a kid, I was uncomfortable speaking to adults. Whenever we went to 7-11, I asked my friends to order my Slurpee from the man behind the counter so I wouldn’t have to talk to him. I tried to go unnoticed whenever possible. It got better as I got older but in high school, I dreaded my speech class. The last thing I wanted to do was stand out or God forbid, make a mistake. How silly I was to think I could blend into the background when standing in front of the class with big 80’s hair and loud bangle bracelets.

I swore that my children would not have those same fears and taught them to speak confidently when talking to adults. As soon as my children could talk, they ordered for themselves in restaurants. My oldest daughter became so confident at a young age that she carried on long conversations with the wait staff after introducing herself and our family. She later talked with ease to teachers and authority figures and took every opportunity to speak in class.

By the time my daughter got to middle school, standing in the spotlight was her favorite thing. She had no fear of the stage or crowds or new people. (Spiders, on the other hand would send her running from the room.) My daughter enjoyed performing in the orchestra, chorus and musicals. She auditioned for dozens of solos and performed them with ease. If she did not get the part, her confidence did not waiver. It seemed to fuel her to practice more and try again – each time with a smile.

High school offers so many more opportunities for performers like my daughter. In addition to chorus and musicals, she plans to audition for plays and the speech team. The speech team is an extracurricular activity where she voluntarily gets up in front of strangers, judges and her peers and performs – sometimes off the cuff. That sounds like complete torture to me and yet, she loves it. This week she attended a speech camp where she is learning the different parts of the speech team – Dramatic Interpretation and Radio Speaking seem to be her favorite so far. They are working in small groups reading off scripts, acting in charade-like games and doing improvisation. I can’t imagine doing that without a glass (or two) of wine in my system!

As a parent, I feel like I can cross an accomplishment off my list. I have a confident teenager who can not only order her own Slurpee, but has also learned a life skill. I think she has found a new passion and I am happy for her. What more can a mother ask for?

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