I have been involved with IMPACT Personal Safety for 10 years now. I took my first class as a sophomore in high school because I was so afraid of the world around me. I could put on a brave face and pretend like nothing phased me, but I was too afraid to walk the seven blocks from my house to school. Taking the class helped me face my fears for the first time, and IMPACT hasn’t stopped helping face them since.
The biggest fear IMPACT helped me face was my fear of public speaking. Throughout all of high school and college, I always dreaded classes where I had to present. It didn’t matter how prepared I was; I would be so nervous for so long that I would get incredibly light headed and nauseous. I was in tears before I presented and immediately after because of the amount of adrenaline I had in my system. I was later diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which explained my extreme reaction to presentations. Through instructor training, I was able to give myself new strategies to work through my anxiety and conquer my fear of public speaking.
Now, this was a very slow process. The first speech I had to give by myself was literally 30 seconds long at an open house at the high school where I teach. I looked so nervous that my padded instructor pulled me out of the room before the presentation started and made me knee him in the groin until I calmed down. Two months later, I had to lead my first graduation, again at the high school. I was a nervous wreck, but not nearly as bad as the open house. I had my graduation speech printed out to make sure I said everything that I needed to say and it took everything I had to not just read directly from the page. I knew if I wanted to be an instructor, I had to get more comfortable with speaking in front of a crowd. The more classes I taught, the better I felt. My personality started coming through in my teaching. I made jokes during graduations. I was visibly relaxing and getting more confident.
The biggest affirmation I had happened on my birthday this year. I was leading two 50-minute seminars at a local college in Hollywood. Going into it, I didn’t really think about the size of the group because I assumed it would be a little more than a standard IMPACT class – maybe 30 people. When I got to the school, I asked the person in charge how many people were going to be attending each seminar. She said there would be 110 (I REPEAT A HUNDRED AND TEN) people in the first seminar and 80 in the second. This was the biggest group I had ever talked to and yet, I wasn’t phased. I knew I would represent IMPACT well. My padded instructor and I just received feedback on the seminars and the school thought we were fantastic and the presentations were a huge success because of us. Thanks IMPACT for helping me become more confident! I can’t wait to see how much more I can grow!