It’s over — Friday, that is. And the keynote speech that I’d been holding and preparing for many weeks. Before I forget the experience, I wanted to share how it went. Thus, I present to you the Ten Stages of Getting Up There.
Stage 1: I Got This. This is when you wake up, remember that today is The Day, and you jump out of bed ready to take it on. You’ve got adrenaline pumping, you’ve worked hard to be here, you’re ready. (Where’s the Eye of The Tiger Pandora station when you need it, btw?!) You get dressed, put on your favorite candy-apple red pumps, and kiss your loved ones good-bye. You are OFF! There’s no stopping you now!!
Stage 2: Oh, Shit. Wait. What were you thinking? You don’t have this. What if you forget what you were going to say? You were fooling yourself to think you could do this. There’s no way you’re getting out of the car. Call husband for immediate pep talk. He better have his GAME ON this morning!
Stage 3: Hide in the Bathroom. You get out of the car, but it’s almost like an out-of-body experience. You’ve never felt so clumsy in heels. It’s like your feet have swollen or grown an inch in the last half hour. Nevermind, just smile and find the bathroom. Find. The. Bathroom. Ok, deep breaths. Pretend you need to fix your make-up, but really look in the mirror and silently instruct yourself to PULL IT TOGETHER, WOMAN!! Every time you feel like you’re going to lose it, return to bathroom. And repeat.
Stage 4: Me? Come Up There?? This is when they call your name and you’re somehow genuinely surprised to hear it. You actually, really, truly need to get up there. NOW. It’s not just in some alternative universe far, far away. You shake off the disbelief and wobble (your feet have now grown two inches) your way up there.
Stage 5: The Ventriloquist. Somehow, you’re speaking. Your mouth is moving. You’re saying the words… Hey! They just laughed. You made a funny! Just. Keep. Going.
Stage 6: Look Who’s Grooving Now! This is just before you make your first mistake. You feel (momentarily) unstoppable. Eloquent. Almost like a pro…
Stage 7: Wait. Where Am I? You are now vacillating between feeling the words – and the audience – and having intense, disorienting bouts of Oh-Shit-It’s-Really-Happening Self-Consciousness. But you realize, finally and with certainty, that you’re actually going to live through whatever happens up here. All you have to do is keep going…
Stage 8: Did That Just Happen? That’s it – you’re done already? It’s over? You simultaneously take stock of what you did – and didn’t – say, while you register that they are clapping for you. YOU. And it’s actually over… in what felt like only five minutes.
Stage 9: The Do-Over Fantasy. All of that energy and waiting and fretting and now, it’s, suddenly, over. You wish you could go back and add in the parts you forgot. And say that hilarious thing that you said when you rehearsed it with your husband. When you get to this stage, you look back with a bit of skewed perspective (like forgetting how you were super-anxious and actually got through it. And were pretty vulnerable up there.)
Stage 10: Now what? And this, my friends, is the best part. You’re driving home, feeling the love, and you’ve already forgotten the anxiety (Me? Nervous? Not really!) And now, you are wondering what’s next?! If you can do that, well, what else can you do?! You decide that it wasn’t so scary after all. You even feel a bit embarrassed about thinking-it-so. Because, well, you’re on top of the mountain that once seemed so high. Whatever you do, be sure to enjoy the view… because Stage 11 includes cleaning vomit up from your very sick son and wishing you were back at Stage 1…