Yesterday was the first time I publicly read out a poem that I wrote, I personally didn’t think it was that good. But I felt good that I was able to get out of my comfort zone and read a poem to 100+ people. Though I’m happy that I didn’t have to actually had to face them and that may be the next step, towards getting over my performance anxiety.
I remember, it must have been in year 4, I had to do a presentation about the Niger delta in Geography. From what I can recall I did pretty well however my hands wouldn’t stop shaking. This has been a theme for me all my life, till now.
It went so far, that when I was the president of the ISOC last year, giving the khutba’s and leading the prayers, I would shake throughout and that made me feel worse.
Praise be to God, after months of giving khutba’s it became better and I’d say that if there was one benefit in me being pushed into that position it is that. However the problem would occur again, whenever I had someone else do the khutba for a while or there were holidays in between.
Leading the payers although a blessing and I love doing it, was at times the worst. The fear of messing up, messed up my concentration and sometimes as a result I would mess up, never seriously, Alhamdulillah, but still. I sometimes felt guilty, I would tell myself that I am doing this for Allah swt. not anyone else, I should be afraid of him, so why am I so fearful of messing up infront of a few people.
I actually asked Boonaa Mohammed (a canadian Poet) at the Q’n’A session after the Myrical Lyrical event last monday, how to get over Performance anxiety. He reminded me of the dua’ that Prophet Musa as. recited upon being told to confront Pharaoh, Firawn, by Allah swt.
رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي
Rabbish rahlee sadree. Wa yassir lee amree
Oh my lord, expand for me my breast. And ease for me my task
وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسَانِي يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي
Wahlul ‘uqdata mi lisaanee. Yafqahoo qawlee
And loosen for me the knot from my tongue. So that they may understand my speech.
He also mentioned that public speaking and the like is not for everyone, but is a skill that everyone should work on. He also reminded us that the Prophet saw. was the best example even as a public speaker. He saw. was also very succinct when speeking, but his speech always contained a lot of wisdom, so that scholars could write books about a single statement that he saw. made.
So this is me inshaAllah trying to act upon this, to remember and make this dua’ whenever I am in such a situation and to revisit the life of the Prophet saw. from different angles, in this case the Prophet saw. as a public speaker.