Why is it that so many people are afraid of public speaking? According to the Wall Street Journal, it's the number one fear in the United States. So it was no surprise when The King's Speech won an Oscar - it resonated with one of our most deep-seated fears. The film's defining moment confronted that fear head-on:
We have a voice. Whoever we are, whether it be a theater major or a king with a stammer, we have something to say and a story to tell. So why are we afraid?
Because the world attacks that which is most threatening to it.
And nothing is more threatening than truth.
Sharing our story is an exercise in truth and vulnerability. We open up the deepest parts of ourselves to the world. Mark Twain once said, "There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars." We are nervous, but rightly so.
Case in point: I'm in a poetry class this semester and it is the most difficult creative endeavor I've ever embarked on. The point of poetry is to convey an emotional truth, and it is exhausting to do that much soul-searching every week. But it is also extraordinarily rewarding to find the perfect words to that grasp that truth.
Our first project was to write and perform a slam poem, so our professor brought in a local slam poet to workshop our poems. Timothy Palmer affirmed the importance of our stories and unique voices. He shared with us the paradox of poetry: the deeper we reach inside ourselves, the more people resonate with our experience.
As we continued to study the form, it became incredibly clear to me that we desperately need poets and storytellers. As traditional poets lost touch with society, our culture cried out for these necessary artists - and poetry was reborn in slam. As books lost their influence, movies arose as the modern storytelling medium. No matter what state our world is in, we need brave souls who are willing to share their stories.
Timothy Palmer left us with an inspiring commission, which I also leave with you: Dig deep into the pockets of your soul.
Are you ever afraid of sharing your story?