I was so terrified about speaking up in school that if I had to give a presentation, I’d spend the whole class thinking of what I had to say. I’d become deaf to what everyone else was saying. After I spoke, my deafness persisted. My heart pounded as I numbly replayed my mistakes, and I shuddered at the memory of my faltering voice. People sometimes say, “I have low self-esteem.” Does that mean they don’t like … Continue reading Self-Esteem is Overrated
I used to belong to a ski club that traveled often to the breathtaking mountains of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. I was friends with a group of New York City firefighters who also belonged to the club. Once, instead of taking a bus, I decided to take my car and split the driving with a couple of these men. I’m scrupulous about wearing seat belts and … Continue reading Telling Yourself Superstitious Tales
Sometimes I look at people around me and marvel that every one of us alive right now is descended from an unbroken line of modern human beings who first walked the earth around 200,000 years ago. If you’re not amazed, and rather impressed with yourself, think about this: In the 4 billion years since life emerged on our planet, over 99% of all species that have ever lived, have gone … Continue reading Designed for Anxiety
I spent my entire education, including high school, university, and graduate school, as the quietest student in history. In 4th grade I stopped ever raising my hand, and did not once answer a question for the next 20 years in any classroom. But I longed to speak in public. Years ago, I was introduced to the non-profit organization, Toastmasters International, where I met the kindest group … Continue reading Are You a Natural?
This is a story of how I changed the lives of 8 people for 10 days in a trifling way. But mostly, it’s about how I changed myself. Many years ago I was a shy social worker at a small, non-profit agency helping runaway kids by giving them shelter, advocacy, and counseling. We were housed in an old building undergoing renovation during the hottest July I can … Continue reading Doing the Impossible