By Allison Stein
On Wednesday morning, I already knew that the evening would be one I’d remember forever. It was July 9. At 6:30, I would speak about self-publishing Summer Sensations at the Rawson Memorial Library in Cass City – and give only the second presentation I have given in my life. I knew I had a big opportunity.
I thought back to all the times I’d practiced my presentation. My mom had listened to me and given me feedback; sometimes she’d advised me to talk slower so that the audience could understand me better, and other times she’d told me that I needed to speak louder. Mom had shown me how to “talk to people, not at them.” She had always given me encouragement, and I could tell she believed in me. At each practice session, I had tried to improve.
But on Wednesday, those practices seemed years ago, and there was no more time for preparation.
I was very nervous. So much relied on that night. My presentation had the possibility of going horribly; I kept imagining myself messing up, like a recurring nightmare in my mind. On the other hand, I had a chance to share a special night with my readers. The evening could be a disaster or a fantastic memory; the potential for either felt unsettling. Furthermore, even after my practicing, I wasn’t sure I was ready; I was used to performing in front of an audience of one and wasn’t confident in how I would handle the pressure of talking to a crowd.
That evening, I rode in a van with my parents, sister, and grandparents; I looked out the window and worried. When my sister spotted a “Cass City” sign, my anxiety rose. My family reached the library moments later and was directed to the room where I would speak. I arranged my display book and organized my printed-off poems. Several people came before the presentation began, and I was excited about the turnout.
Six thirty came too soon. It was time for my presentation to start, and my heart was beating fast. Everyone had sat down, the librarian had introduced me, and the room was completely silent. Everything was ready – except me. I looked out at the audience and hesitated. I wasn’t just nervous anymore; I was scared. Then I remembered my first presentation, which I had given almost a year ago; right before I had begun speaking, a friend had come up to me and reminded me of all the people who supported me: my family, my friends, my mentors, and the members of my community. Those words echoed inside me, and somehow, I wasn’t as afraid. I got the courage, once again, to start.
I shared with the audience members how Summer Sensations came to be. I told them about everything from the first publications that accepted my work to my adventures in marketing. I read them my poetry and answered their questions. Afterwards, I enjoyed meeting my readers.
I believe that speaking at the Rawson Memorial Library was a good experience. I learned how to react when situations don’t go exactly as planned, to control my nerves, and to take risks. Best of all, I had an abundance of support from the community, for which I am immensely thankful.
Just like I predicted on Wednesday morning, the evening of July 9 is a permanent memory. I can’t forget the excitement of sharing what I’ve learned with the audience – and, at the same time, learning more myself. The biggest discovery I made was the importance of pushing myself farther and farther. I used to be apprehensive about setting goals above myself, but now I’ve realized that doing so just makes me reach higher.