It is 2:33AM in my computer and I’m about to write my first blog! Yipeeee, at least I’ll have a literary work online to boast about, if not to be ashamed of. So, please bear with me!
Unlike many of the BNT old-timers and even with the equally cerebral newcomers, I’m probably the least polished speaker or writer, if you will. Most members already knew my predicament, that English and Public Speaking are not my forte! I have verbalized that many times over, with Ed, Gege, Alvin, Mark, and even to the rest of the club in my speeches, introduction and casual chit-chat! I’m not going to deny that the thought of withdrawing my membership in TM troubled me for months. I felt vaguely uncomfortable during every meeting in whatever role I took, which is one of three things, timer, ah-counter and speaker, ‘coz I never really had the guts to volunteer for a TM of the PM nor Table Topics Master. And of course, I won’t dare do the Language Evaluator role even for a fee unless they’d ask me to do a comical “Language Evaluation” for a change.
Having been raised in a lower class family and being in a technical profession in my entire career with minimal social interaction molded me into a person who speaks only when necessary. I didn’t have the passion for reading non-technical books until I was 26. I didn’t have the need to speak publicly, nor converse in English so I was to be contented with my mediocre English, I needed not care if my grammar or pronunciation was wrong so long as I can be understood..
Things changed when I read Robert Kiyosaki’s books, which opened my eyes to a world entirely alien to me. I dreamt of running a business, of course, just like every person does, but that was to remain a dream until I finished reading 3 of his books - Rich Dad Poor Dad, Cash Flow Quadrant, Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing. And true to the principle in Psychology that repetitive thinking creates a mental pattern – a mindset that is, I awoke one day giving up my promising career as a Telecom Engineer and did everything I could to jump from “E Quadrant” - Employment to the “B Quadrant” – running my own business.
I was a “Jack of All Trades” in the Telecom and IT arena, I can execute an MML command to diagnose an ET while half asleep. What the hell is MML and ET anyway? Don’t bother asking yourself, those are my jargon, together with SQL STATEMENTS, REGISTRY, CM, E1, SS7. I bet they don’t make sense to the common “tao.”
Then, after reading Kiyosaki’s books and in one fell swoop, I didn’t need my jargon anymore. The business world that I’m now in calls for me to speak in layman’s terms. To speak in a way that my clients, partners, and subordinates would understand. And more importantly to speak in a way that can motivate, persuade, and that can bring them “AWE”. But wait, I hear something inside me saying, “You’re an Engineer, Owen. You were born to develop, program, translate, convert, compute, optimize, not to persuade, motivate, convince.” That voice haunted me for months. For years.
Feeling the need to enhance my communication skills, I enrolled in a special course at the DLSU for advance conversational English. I’m not saying that the course was crap, but I guess it didn’t work for me. Or is it just really tough to teach old dogs new tricks? Never giving up, I kept on searching for something that will work for me until I found toastmasters website, which was in the first place of my Google Search. And so was Gege’s contact number. The rest is history!
December 13 marks my first year in ButterNToast. With a few accomplishments, a couple of Timer and AH-Counter roles, delivered three speeches (aiming to deliver my 4th speech this Nov 13 ) and falling victim to the hair raising Table Topic Monsters three times. Leveling myself to the likes of Alvin, Gege, Boom, Ed and the rest of the gang remains a far fetched reality. I did feel I was improving but when brilliant newcomers joined in, Louie, Cris, Christine, Mark and the relentless pouring of talented new blood in the club, I felt something deteriorating. And that was my competitive spirit. It’s like saying “’di ko pa nga nahahabol ‘tong mga dinatnan ko, eto’t nagdatingan pa ang mas madaming magagaling, lalo na kong mapapag iwanan”.
My inferiority complex haunted me again. Yeah, I know what we always say, and I can look straight into your eyes and tell you that I believe that the club is our laboratory, a testing ground, a friendly environment to learn. But my self-image won’t believe that; my self-image is convinced that I’m not at par with any of the members and for all we know, the guests. I know I won’t get hanged by mispronouncing a word nor be shot in the head by not using the correct preposition, but the fear is just as real. At least that’s how I feel.
Right now, I’m running a battle, but a battle I realized I can win. There’s no way I can get rid of my fears in the days to come since I don’t have control over them. It is my self-image that creates that fear, the subconscious as they say.
But last week, I made a startling discovery after reading Boom’s “BNT Night out at the Rocci Café”. He commented on Carmel Valencia’s near perfect evaluation of Ed’s speech. I was really amazed, if not stupefied, by this young girl’s flawless diction and eloquent delivery not to mention her organized and concise evaluation of Ed’s speech. She became my instant crush - at least that night! ;) ( Hi Carmel! Blushing!) Curious about what kind of divine power is surrounding this girl that she can give such an intelligent evaluation that seemed so effortless, I Googled “Carmel Valencia” and Ta Dah, Carmel’s linkedin.com profile, first in the results page. Nothing extra ordinary, at least compared to other young achievers, but something struck me and it hit me hard. Her "Education"
International School of Singapore, Poveda Learning Center, Ateneo de Manila University ???
Big eyes rolling!
Whhhhaaaaaaatttt?? How on earth will I compare that with my Segundo Esguera Sr. Memorial Elementary School -SEMES, my Calumpit Institute and “What did you say your University was? University of the Philippines?” – “No, its Polytechnic University of the Philippines!" – galit pa! Geez!
I had mixed thoughts of excitement and renewed enthusiasm. But of course, I can’t become like Carmel overnight, nor be like Gege, nor Boom, nor Ed... Alvin.. Sheila.. Jun Roy.. Tisha.. Mars.. Wew.. "lahat na yata kayo!" I am not them, neither did I have the same privilege most of them enjoyed – happy childhood, good education, supportive family, or careers that steered them to where they are today!
Now, I realized that I don't belong to that "minority" who can’t speak English properly and can't deliver rhetorical impromptu speeches, So, I’m not autistic after all. I’m just a normal person, one of the masses! In fact, I recall countless guests, who like me, would freeze up and quiver when called upon to introduce themselves or give comments. The truth is, I now feel that I'm one of the braver souls compared to many of them since I did not see them come back after perhaps that embarrassing moment, - at least in their own perception .. (Not that I’m trying to scare away wanna-be-members or guests here; it's not the point I want to make ) There would be, of course, people who will not see the light! There would be people who’ll decide to hide their light under the bushel than to face their fears!
Now, I know and I’d reaffirm once again that I’m the worst speaker in the club but I’d stop unfairly comparing myself to others. It will do me no good. I will continue to be inspired by these brilliant minds so I can do likewise, not tomorrow, not next year, maybe not in this lifetime - in terms of being at par with them, but doing likewise in terms of how they continuously develop themselves.
I will stop aiming for superiority for it will only give me impossible goals to shoot for. I can never be superior because someone else will always be better than me! I would not aim for superiority nor would I embrace inferiority! From now on, I will keep one thing in mind, that I am not superior, I am not inferior, I am simply Me! Because only by being true to myself will I be able to express what I feel, what is lurking there in the deepest corners of my heart and mind! “That I fell in love Carmel?” hehe… No, that I was born to be happy! And I can only be happy if I’ll be able to live life with gusto and enthusiasm while pursuing goals that matter to me. Now, I dare to "Bite the Bullet"!
And I encourage readers who are like me to do the same!
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