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I have struggled with public speaking anxiety for as long as I can remember. My middle school teachers would dock points on my projects when I leaned on the podium for support for my trembling body, and my high school instructors looked on sympathetically as I struggled to complete a presentation without tearing up. It took me two years into my higher education to finally find my confident voice to use in front of crowds. I thank my college professors for being compassionate and truly helpful in improving my skills, but I owe it to myself for recognizing my strength and perseverance to finally kick this fear of mine.

Despite my past of failed public speaking incidents, I recently delivered one of the most important and meaningful speeches to date. In preparation for this, I constantly edited my script to find the perfect words. I practiced for weeks and gave myself endless pep talks in the mirror to control my nerves. This was a speech about me, my values, and why I should be elected as KU’s next Student Body President. A year ago, I could hardly imagine delivering such a significant dialogue, but now I was campaigning for a position where I would have to use my voice on behalf of students nearly every single day. I shocked myself and my loved ones by standing up at the podium with excitement and grace. My speech and question & answer session occurred with very few mistakes, and I was beyond proud of myself for making it through with confidence. 

This was a huge milestone in overcoming my anxiety. I feared for so long that I would be mocked or disregarded for speaking out with conviction, but I have made notable progress on combating those thoughts. I still struggle with anxiety in other contexts, but I know that I am capable of more than I thought, and that is what truly matters.

Kayla is a sophomore Social Media Theory and Strategy student at Kutztown University. Her interests range from youth activism to the latest beauty trends, so she is always glad to see these topics brought into the online networking world.