First Steps to Tackling my Anxiety.

On Tuesday, prior to the kick off for Storage Field Day, I was invited along with Arjan Timmerman and Chin-Fah Heoh to Pure Storage to record an episode of The On Premise IT Roundtable podcast with Pure Storage’s Brian Gold. It was a privilege to have been asked along to be part of the conversation.

When this year started, I wrote my 3 goals, and one of them carried on from last year. it was to help beat my anxiety with public speaking. Since Joining the TechFieldDay crew, I have used this as an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. IN 2018, I attended my first Field Day at SFD16 and walking into the room when I arrive in Boston, I did not know anyone. In this instance I told myself that I had just flew 20 hrs to attend this and I need to suck it up and go shake someone’s hand and start a conversation. That was the very first step. Along the next few days I kept meeting new people, however when I asked a question during the presentations, my heart started racing and I started to sweat.

Come TFD18 in Feb, 2019. it was a similar situation where I felt I needed to take the next step in tackling my anxiety, and there was an opportunity to do an ignite presentation, unfortunately, I really felt I wasn’t prepared and didn’t raise my hand to do one. That chance to present was a missed opportunity, I look back and think about the step backwards I took and how I did not help my situation.

In June 2019, I was asked to be on Nerd Journey Podcast to discuss a topic I wrote about a couple of years prior, All of a sudden, I felt like I couldn’t do it, but I wrote an email back say “Yes, I’d be glad to.” because I knew that if I sat on it, then I would never do it. During the lead up I took time to prepare for the podcast, I wrote several pages of notes about the topic and about myself. The lead up on the day of the recording, I was feeling ok, I had thoughts running through my head, but I was relatively calm, when I first spoke with John and Nick prior to recording, I felt good, until the record button was pressed. This was the point where my heart rate increased and my head went blank, even though I had my notes in front of me, I not once looked at them,. I completely forgot they were there as I was trying to focus on the question. I did not feel as though it went well. I listened back to the recording to suggest some edits where I thought I might have said too much about a particular topic, or thought it wasn’t a clear answer. it was hard to listen to myself speak, it isn’t something I like to hear and I felt that I was not good at it.

I have since reflected on that experience and I still recognise what went wrong for me. However, I know I have since been able to accept that I won’t ever get it right the first time, it always requires practice and lots of it. So when I was asked to do the On Premise IT Roundtable podcast, I immediately said, “Yes.” and then regretted it after as I start to fret saying “I don’t know how I’m going to have anything to say about that topic.” “I’m going to freeze and not have a single thing to say.”  – but it was actually not like that in the end.

It was yet another interesting experience for me. While we were given a very high level premise, there was no specific topic, as that was yet to be chosen. I started to over-think that I probably wouldn’t have anything much to contribute, or not to the depth that would be required. When we came to recording the podcast, the topic that was chosen was something I had an extremely high-level view of and next to no technical knowledge of, mostly due to never requiring the use. At this point, I started to freak out with just thoughts running through my head, even to the point that by just introducing myself, my heart was pounding so much that I was trying to see if my mic was picking it up. As the conversation moved along, I started to feel more calm, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I still didn’t say a lot, and certainly not much from a technical perspective.

In the end, I was very glad I did take the opportunity to join the podcast and record as I am now able to reflect and apply the practice into the week ahead for SFD19. In fact, I have now also been invited to talk on another podcast during the week with 2 other SFD delegates and of course I said, “Yes.” I may still feel like I’ve made a terrible decision and that I don’t want to do it, but deep down I want to be able to sit down and be able to control my anxiety so that I can be confident in presentations and podcasts. This is why I love Tech Field Day, I am learning more about myself and pushing my comfort zone over the edge.  It takes practice and letting go of those fears, but as I’ve learnt, saying, “Yes.” is the first step in achieving your goals.

Check out the Storage Field Day 19 schedule and join us for a week of in-depth discussions around storage.

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