Last week I had to give a presentation at work. As much as I can be awkward and try my best to avoid uncomfortable situations where I am the focus of attention, I am oddly and strangely calm when I have to speak in public. I’m not exactly sure why, but part of my brain just shuts off and makes it happen.
The presentation was about a long standing project that I have been the solely responsible person for at my job. I have been doing it quietly and unnoticed (with the exception of this presentation) for nearly six years. It was a project which stemmed from a single “what if” question that was asked of me when I first was hired. Since then, I have collected thousand of data points, which have been quite valuable, in my humble opinion.
I’d like to think that it went well. I remembered to speak more slowly. I didn’t read directly from my slides or notes. Instead I remembered the thoughtful way the presentation was put together so that it flowed like a natural dialog, as though it were a conversation between two people. At the end, there were lots of questions, which made me think that the material was stimulating enough to get people thinking about how it applied to them. There was a good amount of discussion that followed. Overall, it felt like a win.
When I came back to the office, I felt different, lifted up. A colleague gave me some genuinely nice feedback, stating how she had no idea how much I had been doing with this project, and how helpful it was to the audience. Even the boss gave me a thumbs up.
It was bizarre, though. Had I stepped into an alternate universe where the folks who had been so cold and callous toward me in the last, well forever, been won over and now sort of respected me? That might be taking it a little far, but the tone was definitely different. It reinforced what I feel about my own skills, which was that I am indeed competent and do a good job. It diminished the message that I had been getting from the group, which was that I’m an idiot and a loner who needs to be isolated and made to feel like I’m the problem.
In the coming weeks, I’m going to be handing off a lot of my regular duties to my colleagues so that they are prepared to cover for me when I take maternity leave. It has been incredibly uncomfortable to do this. Letting go of the things I do and do well is an exercise in trusting people I don’t think necessarily have earned it. I feel uneasy in letting that little bird fly the nest without me, but I’ll have to, because the next phase of my life will require my full attention.
Still, I hope this feeling lasts. Right now, I don’t completely loathe my job, and having that moment of “oh, this isn’t too bad right now” lifts a heavy weight from my heart that I had almost forgotten was there. I had just become that accustomed to it, I guess. But in this moment, I am good, I am worthy, and I have earned the right to feel that way. Demonstrating this competency has shown others that I’m not completely the horrible person they have decided I was, and having that tiny bit of karma go my way feels pretty awesome.