public speaking anxiety

Summary: How I tackled and embraced my introversion and phobia of public speaking.

I’ve always dreaded public speaking. I’d break into a cold sweat, stammer, or freeze up, mind blank.

I’m an introvert who spent her childhood drawing in a corner by myself and hoping my work would speak for itself.

I actually even hated to show others my work, often covering my doodling process with my free hand.

There was definitely perfectionism at play; I couldn’t bear to let anyone else see it until I felt it was “good enough,” which it only was after hours and hours.

I was also taught to be humble and not stand out from the crowd by my Asian upbringing.

It’s been such a crazy and difficult transition into the world of online entrepreneurship!

There have been so many times when I’ve come close to giving up, wondering if entrepreneurship just isn’t in my blood.

The people who reach success with online businesses seem to be leaders and trail-blazers.

When answering honestly, I’d say I’d prefer to be a follower than a leader.

I prefer working in teams, loving cooperation and harmony rather than competition.

It also feels less devastating than trying and failing alone. Everything seems less scary with company.

I don’t care about the limelight; in fact, I get nervous when too many eyes are on me. I don’t mind working in the shadows, as long as I’m given credit and recognition for it.

Unfortunately I had some bad experiences in group projects where I did most of the work but was not given credit for it, so now I’m particularly sensitive to this.

I realize these have been somewhat clashing desires. I tried to become more of a leader, as society seemed to say I had to be in order to be successful.

In college, I went to so many clubs and events and got more used to talking to strangers rather than keeping to myself.

This forced extroversion was really draining to me, however. I was constantly running on a near-empty tank.

Back then, I also didn’t realize that I was keeping myself so busy, cramming each day with back-to-back plans, as a means of escaping and avoiding the uncomfortable feelings that would arise if I stopped doing things and just let myself be.

Feelings related to how I felt my life was on the wrong track going into medicine. I had also been using food to stuff my emotions down.

When I finally confronted my demons, I found those unhealthy behaviors also falling away.

Why was I forcing myself to be social, or to be someone I’m not? Everyone has a different level needed for their fulfillment, and whatever that is, that’s okay.

I came back to embracing my introversion. For those who know the Myers-Briggs personality test, I went from an ENFP to ENFJ to now an INFP over the past 10 years). Apparently INFP’s are born authors/bloggers haha. I’m usually skeptical of categorization tests, but this was eerily spot-on.

Mediator (INFP) is someone who possesses the IntrovertedIntuitiveFeeling, and Prospecting personality traits. Making up only 4% of the population, these rare personality types tend to be quiet, open-minded, imaginative, and apply a caring and creative approach to everything they do. Mediator personalities are true idealists, always looking for the hint of good in even the worst of people and events, searching for ways to make things better.

Service careers such as massage therapy, physical rehabilitation, counselling, social work, psychology…can be exceptionally rewarding for Mediators, who take pride in the progress and growth they help to foster.

I no longer feel guilty or like a loser if I’d rather curl up with a good book than go out to a social event.

I now recognize my discomfort as a sign to slow down and reconnect and re-align with myself, rather than push through or speed up.

I relish my alone time now, and proudly take myself out to a restaurant or event if I want to go, rather than waiting to try to find someone to go with.

As they say, you are first and foremost married to yourself, so you had better enjoy your own company, otherwise why would anyone else, friend or romantic partner, enjoy it?

Introversion is not a bad trait; in fact, it’s a powerful strength. We are thoughtful, reflective, and fantastic listeners.

I also learned that it’s different from shyness. The technical definition of an introvert means someone who re-energizes by spending time alone, looking inward. Introverts tend to be more quiet, shy, and reserved, but not always.

I definitely was more so when younger, but after experiencing the power of connecting deeply with others’ souls, I now seek those out. I’d rather have a few close, genuine connections, than a large network.

But I did take steps to work on my shortcomings, since I wanted to stop being a nervous wreck in front of larger groups, and knew that giving presentations would probably be part of work life to some capacity.

I took a Public Speaking class in college, and also attended a few Toastmasters events. They helped temporarily, but public speaking skill definitely is a muscle.

I definitely relapse into my old ways if I’m not mindful and purposeful about improving.

I started this blog 1.5 years ago, in Feb 2019, but have always hid behind writing, never dared to show the world much of my face or voice.

I saw other people getting on videos and thought, “I could never do that!!”

But I’ve learned that if I want something I’ve never had, I have to be willing to do things I’ve never done.

If I want to be a coach because I love 1:1 deep conversations and lifting others up to the best that they can be, I need to be willing to show others who I am, not just in words and drawings but in actual presence.

So I’m committing to showing up live, unedited, every week, Thursdays at 9 PM EST, in my Facebook group Acceptsians.

acceptsians public speaking
acceptsian manifesto asian culture exception

I also started making and posting videos, mostly on LinkedIn, but again had to fight my urge to edit, re-take, and re-do them. Live videos would bust that perfectionism.

The more we push ourselves out of our comfort zones, the easier it becomes. I do believe this is a muscle and can be learned, practiced, and honed by anyone.

I also plan to run workshops and possibly Zumba dance classes. I’m not an expert by any means, but I strongly believe in having fun, learning, and reaching our goals together.

That’s what I love about coaching too, how it’s a co-creation process and journey alongside someone to reach better versions of ourselves. I learn just as much as my client does, if not more.

I hated the authority and inequality of the doctor-patient relationship, but the hand-in-hand coaching relationship feels so much more true to me.

I’m always on the lookout for collaborations and team members to join my missions for Acceptsians or for women’s health education and empowerment!

I’d also love to share your story with the world with our weekly Facebook Lives (which we would turn into a Podcast)!

Please reach out to me here or join the Acceptsians Facebook group.



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Who am I?
Hi! I'm Dr. Toni, a carTOONIst. I empower, educate and advocate for women and minorities through my art and coaching, while traveling nomadically. I help others also follow our hearts and live true to themselves, no matter what others say!
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