Public speaking always terrified me.
I hated the sound of my own voice
Amplified through the microphone,
Every crack of my throat audible against the silence of the room.
I feared the multitude of faces
Staring at me like dolls lined up in a toyshop,
Their marble eyes glued to my body.
I shuddered at my complete exposure:
Nothing to separate me and my audience except the weight of my words.

When my name is called, I take a deep breath –
The familiar rhythm of air filling my lungs reminds me that this nerve-racking moment is just a blip in my existence.
I close my eyes to compose myself, just for a moment, but it is enough.
I walk to the stage and, even though I am alone, I feel an invisible hand take mine and guide me to my position.
The hand squeezes mine in encouragement.
I briefly search the room for this unseen force but there is nothing –
I am the only subject of this stage.
When I look into the eyes of the strangers in front of me
I expect to see the reflection of a quivering speaker,
Voiceless and afraid.
I am surprised at what I see mirrored back at me through their beady eyes;
I do not recognise myself.
Although my features remain the same,
I am coloured with confidence.

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