Beyond Your Comfort Zone

“You!”

“Me?”

“Yes, you! We want you to join our humorous speech contest.”

“But I’m shy and look a bit serious for this contest.”

“Yes, we think you look serious enough that people won’t even notice that you’re making them laugh. That would have an insane effect.”

It all started with my basic speech number ten. The objective is to inspire your audience. I’m supposed to deliver an inspiring speech, but instead, they laughed at it. Yes, it did have an insane effect. Now, they want me to stretch it and push me beyond my comfort zone.

Two weeks after that inspiring speech which became engaging I crafted another speech, specifically made for the humorous contest. I placed many punchlines within that speech and thought I delivered them impeccably. No one laughed, except the timekeeper. I don’t know if he’s laughing because he wants me to end it but in my relief, I thought to myself, yes, they would not enter me to that humorous contest. So I went back to my seat and to my proverbial comfortable shell and took bites on my food. But just when I was about to release myself from joining and go back to my comfort zone, suddenly no less than the grand dame of Tamaraw Toast masters (the first chartered toastmaster club in the Philippines) herself took a peek from her seat while I was hiding behind the shoulder of the multi-awarded contender, she said: “I want you to do that same speech you did two weeks ago.” How can I refuse? So I just let myself be used. I feel like a slut.

Days before the event, my resolve to enter the contest was weakening partly because the original material was intended as an inspirational speech and I wasn’t comfortable using that material. But it made them laugh and they just advise me to make the character of the story in my original speech to be more bizarre to look humorous. So with their inputs, they transformed the character completely and became unrecognizable even to myself. It became harder to resist them since they all worked towards making my speech more humorous while eating a sumptuous dinner at the grand dame of toastmaster’s place. My resistance went down again. I guess it’s the ‘dinuguan’.

By Friday, I took a leave from work and rehearsed the revised speech over and over until I got familiar and confident a day before the event even though at the back of my mind I was expecting that the event would be postponed since most events around the locality have already postponed and suspended their classes due to heavy rains and floods in some areas.

By 10 pm I was already sleeping until my cherry mobile sounded with its infamous ringtone at around 10:30, rousing me from my sleep. I found out it was a shout out from the former president of Tamaraw, the gentle and kind president who has always find nice things to say. I was expecting that the contest would be postponed but instead, the message read, “Wishing you a good night’s sleep so that you wake-up fresh to face the tough challenges for tomorrow’s stiff competition.”

You could just imagine, the whole day I tried to get my mind off the competition so I can get a good night’s sleep. Now here comes this message and instead of the information that the event might be postponed due to heavy rains and all, a cheerful message reminding you about the tough competition ahead. The message was cordial and positive but how come I felt that there was something not right about that message, is it me? Probably it was the last thing you want to know that time because you were already doing that. Now, I have no way out of this competition and I couldn’t go back to sleep after reading the message.

During the event and before my speech, I mustered all my courage and psyched myself in the competition. There were more than ten of us competing in that division. Meantime, during my speech I saw familiar faces in my group. They came to support and I felt comfort and as most of the audience were laughing, their faces were beaming, reassuring and encouraging. They were like my Mothers!

After my speech, my thirteen-year old daughter texted, so I braved the rains and went home. Hours later, I received a message from one of my group-mates, it read, congratulations for being the second runner-up. Now they were posting on Facebook. Its official, I am the second runner-up. Not bad for someone who look serious after joining the contest of humorous. But how come I felt funny after hearing that? I found out later that despite more than ten of us in the competition, we were sub-divided into areas in that division. And in our area, there were only three of us, the winner, the first runner-up and guess who? the second runner-up. As if my speech wasn’t funny enough, guess who had the last laugh?

A philosopher once said,  “In every being, there is a yearning for self-expansion, a yearning for growth.” We can only do this if we push beyond our comfort zone. We can never know the great potential that lies within us unless we become vulnerable and trust the ones who have gone ahead of us.