Be brave and behave. That's what Jason says to Lucy when he sends her into the world. It's good advice, words I've tried to follow during some of the recent most comically hard days of my professional life. Confession: I'm not a public speaker. I'm great in a meeting. A cocktail party. Fourteenth row of an airplane. Any kind of conversation? I'm your girl. But a straight-up, canned presentation in front of a big audience? Not so much. To my continued surprise, I am a reluctant public speaker.
So recently, when I overcame that hesitation and agreed to be one of faces/voices of something I've been working on, I thought: Be brave.
And I was. I presented the first part of my section and I was okay — warming up, a little hesitant, not my best, but getting there. Right before it was my turn again, I took a quick bathroom break, and as I was returning, I threw a hello over my shoulder to one of the participants who was also headed back in and WHAM. I walked straight into the egde of a metal door frame. With my forehead.
I returned to the bathroom, seeing stars, and looked in the mirror to find a smallish, profusely bleeding gash and a rising goose egg IN THE MIDDLE OF MY FOREHEAD. I think to myself: "Is this really happening? Am I in a sitcom?"
Colleagues and helpers rushed into the bathroom. There was discussion of ice, stitches, a substitute presenter. But I decided, I am in New York. This is my Broadway moment. THE SHOW MUST GO ON.
Also, faced with possible concussion, facial scar and deep wound to pride, I was no longer nervous. Was this all a dramatic ruse to distract from my public speaking fear?
I took a deep breath, and assumed my place in front of the room — paper towels pressed to my forehead (you know how headwounds tend to bleed so dramatically?) — and said:
"Lest you think I'm so nervous that I am literally sweating blood, I have to confess to a Lucille Ball moment I had right as I was walking in..."
I was brave. And it was fine. Maybe people even liked me more upon seeing this clear display of my humanity. And as for the "behave" part of Jason's advice, I think we can safely translate that into being safe. Next time, I will behave and wear a helmet.