My name is Zoe Calendar and I am a very shy person.
Growing up my shyness was a real problem. In third grade I was called on to answer a question in math class. I was so nervous I peed my pants right in front of everyone. I ran out of school crying. For an entire week I pretended to be sick so I could stay home and feel mortified in private. When my mother had enough of my excuses, I headed back to class telling everyone I had medical problems. It took years to live down that humiliation. I still have nightmares.
During college I had to get up in front of my public speaking class and give a ten minute talk. As soon as I reached the front of the room I fainted. I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. The professor gave me an A just so I wouldn’t come back and disrupt her classroom.
Today I do everything I can to not have to talk in front of groups. In fact, you’ll usually find me hiding behind my Kindle reading books rather than socializing. I’ll admit, I am a bookworm.
Being a bookworm has led me to my current profession – I’m a professional reader. Yes, that’s what I said, I’m a professional reader. Companies pay me to read legal documents, books, backs of cereal boxes, warranties – you name it. I get paid to read and summarize what I’ve read. I make good money being a bookworm.
I’ve won a $25,000 award. In order to receive that award I have to give a speech in front of two hundred other professional readers. Now comes my current dilemma – Do I stay home and give up some really serious money, or do I risk peeing my pants or maybe fainting in front of my peers?
Oh, heck yes I’ll risk humiliation. $25,000 is nothing to sneeze at. I’ve been trying to figure out how I can make this speech thing work. Maybe I can have my speaking fears hypnotized out of me? How about I hire an actor to impersonate me? Or, I could just suck it up and learn to be social. I guess my only real option is to spread my wings and pretend I’m a social butterfly. Time to fly – literally. Part of my prize is an all-expense paid trip from my little town in West Virginia to New York City. I’ve never been on a plane in my life, let alone fly to a big city. I can’t believe I’m actually going to do this, but $25,000 can be a powerful motivator.
Talk about expanding my comfort zone, my comfort zone is stretched so far I can’t even see the other side. I’ve had my hair highlighted and cut, I’ve splurged on a manicure and pedicure and even bought two New York City type outfits and a sparkly blue evening gown. You know what the most surprising part is? I haven’t embarrassed myself once. Something tells me I’ll survive all of this with my dignity intact.
Let’s fast forward two weeks to the night of the award ceremony. I’m here in New York and I’m still alive. Actually it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. In fact I’m having a really good time. I’ve stayed in my room a lot but I’ve ventured out long enough to explore the hotel.
Yesterday while I was waiting in line to register for the awards banquet, I met two other professional readers and we’re having lunch together at noon. They recognized me from my picture displayed on an easel in the hotel lobby next to the front entrance. I didn’t realize it, but in our professional readers organization I’m quite the celebrity. That’s a great self-confidence booster and certainly takes the edge off of proving to myself I’m worthy of the $25,000 award. I’m scared and proud at the same time.
To further boost my confidence, I went to the hotel salon and had my hair and makeup done this afternoon. Nothing fancy with the hair and makeup. I just want to look New York City polished. My speech is written. It’s only a few minutes long. Two weeks ago I would have doubted I could last a few minutes on stage, but tonight I’m ready. I can do this.
I hear them announcing my name. Here I go – wish me luck.
Epilogue: I survived!
I’m $25,000 richer and a whole lot wiser. I didn’t embarrass myself on stage – I didn’t faint or do something worse. When my speech was finished I actually got a standing ovation. Can you imagine?
On top of all that, a well-known publishing company offered me a job. They want me to be the new vice president of their professional readers department. It means I’d have to move to New York City. The salary is beyond fabulous and they’ll even pay for a furnished apartment and I’ll have a full time driver to take me anywhere I want to go. You know what? I said yes – most definitely – of course!
I hear you asking, “Zoe Calendar, how did you overcome your shyness?”
Here’s my answer: I stopped caring what others thought of me. If they want to judge, let them. I know I’m a good, caring and capable person and that’s what matters most. I’m appreciated and loved by the people who mean the most to me. That, right there, is more important than money, job titles or winning awards. I’ve made peace with the past and I’m ready for an exciting future.
My name is Zoe Calendar and I’m a very happy self-confident woman!
This is a work of fiction.
None of it is real. All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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