Feel The Fear…And Do It Anyway…Even If You’re Fat…

I’ve always liked that Susan Jeffers quote “feel the fear…and do it anyway.” Mind over matter, and all that. Despite having a crippling fear of public speaking, I have been volunteering to do more of it at work. Public speaking is not something that has ever come naturally to me – my stomach tangles in knots, I sweat, I stumble over my words, I can’t catch my breath. I have always been envious of people who can give a speech or get up in front of a big group without a second thought. John is totally like this, which is why he’s such a good improviser (read: no fear). But I have always had the fear.

Knowing that though, I understand that not giving presentations, leading workshops, speaking on a panel, etc will limit me professionally. So, like I said, I’ve been trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and volunteer to do the very thing that has crippled me most of my life.

This week I did a huge presentation in front of about 50 people at work and didn’t puke. In fact, I actually think that I did pretty well! It may seem like small beans to someone who is comfortable with public speaking, but for me it was a huge deal. I prepared and planned for it very academically, as my Type A self is want to do. I started from scratch, made an outline, spent weeks meticulously filling in the outline, spent a weekend building a slide deck, rehearsing my slides over and over, memorizing my entire presentation, making sure the whole thing would come off naturally. Before my presentation I was nervous, but not oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-die nervous like usual. The second I got up in front of the room I felt ok. I began my presentation and was surprised at how good I felt. This non-nervousness gave me confidence: I knew what I was talking about and the flow was good. Afterward I did an internal fist pump. I was super prepared and I crushed it! Yes!

But then I got to thinking. Yes, I was prepared. More prepared than I have ever been for a presentation probably. But something else was there too, something bigger, something less obvious. And I slowly realized what it was. 2014 was a self-care journey for me. I have actively started to practice more self compassion. Telling myself that I am enough just as I am, knowing deeply that I am exactly who I am meant to be – and that anyone or anything telling me otherwise is wrong. I have taken all the bad things that people have said about me or negative thoughts I have told myself, challenged them, contradicted them, and let them fall away.

I realized that part of my fears, in public speaking but also in life, are of actually being seen. That someone will take one look at me and see my size and then choose not to see anything else. That I would be just a blobby person, jiggling along, horrifying and offending with my weight or the way I look. I know, it’s crazy talk. But it’s basically a crime to be an overweight American these days, specifically for women. Fat shaming is a form of discrimination and bullying that is still, somehow, very socially acceptable.

Sidenote: I am so obsessed and thrilled with people like Whitney Thore, Tess Munster, Jes Baker. They are taking the body-positive, #effyourbeautystandards movement to a new level. They make me feel ok to be who I am. Proud even. They inspire me. I look at them and I see women, and bodies, I can actually relate to. I wish these types of role models existed when I was a kid. Anyway…

I never once considered that if I spoke in front of a room of people that they would see anything other than my body. And judge it. Not thinking for a second that if I actually was ever giving a presentation to a packed house, that it might mean I’m a subject matter expert in something. That I have knowledge and expertise that other people want to learn more about. That I have value and worth exclusive to my career and my intellect, rather than my body or my looks. I honestly have never given this pause before. Until now.

I gave a great presentation because I was prepared. For sure. But I also did well because I believe more, now than ever, in the worth of the person giving the presentation. That despite being afraid, I will not be confined by a body or a number on a scale. That I have the power to chose what I’m afraid of. And this is not one of those things anymore. And that, as I let deeply ingrained fears fall away, the future seems impossibly open and all mine.

So, here’s me, sometimes being terrified…but doing it anyway…in my imperfect body…and feeling really proud.

Author: Domestocrat

I'm a lady who enjoys photography, football, cooking, long drives with the windows down, This American Life, kettlecorn, hot yoga, pop punk, my nephews, my cat Reggie, and my home: Boston.

10 thoughts

  1. I love this post. And I am so proud of you. That’s a big fear to get over and manage! I must say, I’ve known you a long time, and I have never (not once, ever) looked at you and saw anything other than ….you! I have never judged you, or though you were anything less than amazing and kind and super smart and funny and snarky. I love all those things! And I think people don’t judge as much as we think they do because they’re too busy worrying about someone judging them. :) My 2 cents for you.

    1. Well, thank you first of all. Those kind words mean a lot to me :)
      I think you’re so right. People probably aren’t worrying about me because they are too busy worrying about themselves. It’s so hard to just let that all fall away though and you get caught up in the worry and let it stop you from doing things/anything. Completely irrational, but that’s the power of self talk, you know? Thank you so much for the perspective!

  2. Love the post. Now that I’m pregnant, I’m realizing how much unnecessary strain all women put on themselves about weight and body image when it’s really all about living in a way where you feel healthy. That’s literally all that matters in the long run. It’s kind of sad that it took me being pregnant to appreciate my body. And I second that I don’t think people judge as much as we think they do. People are too self absorbed to focus on other things. :)

    1. Thanks Joanna! I’ve heard that’s a pretty common time when most women shed a lot of self consciousness, and admit I’ve felt envious of it. Just to one day be like nope, I no longer care about all of this. But you’re right, it’s all about your own personal definition of feeling healthy and happy.

  3. This really resonated with me! Love this post. I feel exactly the same way, I avoid presentations because of the anxiety and worry I have for weeks before, not necessarily about what I am saying but how I look and what people think of me. Not being a skinny girl, I imagine the audience are staring at my overweight body rather than listen to me speak! I hope I can be like you one day, and not be as scared. I realise it affects my career, but all I want to do is shy away and get on with my work, rather than stand up and speak out in a meeting! I went to a team meeting and had loads of ideas but was too scared to speak in case I was judged, but in hindsight this looks worse, and need to tell myself I can do it! I’m really glad you shared this it gives me hope! Thanks

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words and I’m glad you found this post to be something you could relate to! Good luck and keep trying to push yourself every day, even if it’s just an inch.

  4. This is such a fantastic, well-written post. Self-love and compassion really are the keys to happiness, and they open so many doors. You know, even the “fittest” looking women can really be struggling too, and trust me, they are way too self-involved to notice/care about how anyone else looks. I’m a small person at 5’2 and 115 pounds, but I’ve really struggled with food and the whole “clean eating” obsession, to a point where if I’ve had a cookie I feel like I’m a terrible person. Orthorexia is so real, and it’s a very scary disorder. I’m trying to practice self-love and tell myself that I’m enough, and that it’s OK to not obsess over food/exercise all the time. It’s just so much wasted mental space. Being an intelligent, thoughtful person is so much more important!

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