WordCamp US: How to Overcome Your Fears and Start Sharing Your Knowledge

This is a prescheduled post. If the Liberty Bell falls on my head or… whatever, you know the drill. Enjoy the slides.

First things first: you can grab my slides from my WordCamp US talk on overcoming your fears and sharing your knowledge through talks right here.


Download ’em now (PDF, 10 MB).

If you care to read more about why this talk was so important to me and what I’m feeling about it, continue on.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this: getting up in front of potentially hundreds of people and admitting you have a mental illness is scary as shit. I’m not sure if I’m brave for talking about it so openly or just… kind of dumb.

But the reason I submitted this talk to the WCUS speaker selection panel, and the reason I burst into genuine crocodile tears when they chose it, was because it means something important. Not just to me, but potentially to a lot of other people.

I think of myself as a wimp, you know? So if I was able to get up in front of people and share my knowledge — not just at WCUS, but at other camps — then you, or your shy friend, or that developer whose brain you always love to pick, can do it too.

And seriously, don’t sit there and think “sure, but you were a great speaker.” I swear to you, and my husband can swear to you, I had to work myself up to that. I used to flinch at every loud noise, I used to have trouble making eye contact, I used to sit in complete silence with strangers because I couldn’t start or hold a conversation, I used to burst into tears if I thought I wronged someone.

I thought all this was normal. I thought those thirty minute showers I took every night at ten years old, worrying about everything I did and said wrong, were normal.

As I like to joke whenever anyone asks about the change, “Prozac’s a hell of a drug.”

But I don’t say all this to brag, or to show you how far I’ve come. I say all this to make a point: you can do it. I believe in you. We believe in you — the WordPress community, the community who so desperately wants, and needs, to hear your voice, your contributions.

You don’t have to let your fears rule your life. You don’t. I promise you that.

And you will never, ever, find a community more welcoming of new public speakers than the WordPress one, I will tell you that much.

Friend — I hope it’s OK if I call you that 🙂 — if you’re reading this, I hope you know that it’s fine to reach out to me with any questions you may have, any suggestions you may need, anything. Whether it’s about speaking, anxiety, whatever. I will be here for you. The community will be here for you. We are all in this together, and we want you to be safe, and happy, and able — if you want to, and feel comfortable doing so — to give back.

Now quickly before I wrap this up, those links I mentioned in my slides:

Go enjoy the rest of your day, and I wish you luck with whatever you’re off to do next. 🙂

Catch me on Twitter: @nicoleckohler

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