The afternoon before the Kweli conference, anxiety bubbled within me like bad gas. By that night it was a furious boil complete with heartburn and sweating. Despite the many weeks I spent preparing the for event, the thought of sitting on one panel in the morning and moderating my first panel ever that afternoon was physically uncomfortable. I started listing appropriate last-minute excuses in my head:
-emergency root canal
-Acute, crippling, public-speaking induced motion sickness
The list went on…
In retrospect, freaking out about an event is actually part of my process. I recall experiencing similar levels of panic the night before giving my salutatorian address and before presenting my senior thesis. Just like stages of grief, there are stages to process:
Stage One: Shock. Someone thinks it’s a good idea for me to speak in public? Ha!
Stage Two: Denial. This must be a mistake…
Stage Three: Confusion. What does this mean?? What will this entail?? Why me?!
Stage Four: Acceptance. Fine, if I’m going to do this, I’d better do it right.
Stage Five: Bargaining. I’d give anything just to get through this event without embarrassing myself.
Stage Six: Panic. This was a bad idea! Everyone’s gonna know I’m a fraud!
Stage Seven: Nausea. I feel queasy enough to question all of my life choices, but not so much that I can bail out now. Let’s get this over with.
The actual event was a whirlwind! Between asking questions of people and artists I admire and answering questions from aspiring writers I barely had time to finish eating my sugar cookie. If you ask me, both the panel I sat on and the one I moderated went well.
Ultimately, when asked to do something that’s just outside of my comfort zone, I relied on my strengths to get it done. I don’t consider myself a strong public speaker, but I am a strong organizer and I don’t mind sharing what I know about publishing with aspiring writers. I relied on these strengths and interests to provide the best information possible for conference attendees and showcase the panelists whose conversation I moderated. I can’t promise a perfect presentation, I can only promise that I’ll be professional, candid, and a little corny. That’s who I am, so that’s the best I can do.
Interested in learning more about the Kweli Color of Children’s Literature Conference? Visit the website here!