Wind Sprints: The dumb of all fears (editor’s column)
September 16, 2016
We all have our secret fears.
Some people are afraid of heights; others dread the dark. Meeting a bear in the forest raises the hairs on almost anyone's neck. But that's just our lizard-brain instincts kicking in. Who wants to be dinner?
Other fears, though, are more idiosyncratic. In a poll of the Summit Daily newsroom, some of the most surprising phobias included flying carp, Santa Claus, chipping a tooth, being crushed by errant space debris and getting gallons of warm, sticky honey dumped on your head ("Hard to live your life in constant fear of that," one reporter said of the latter).
My biggest fear? That's easy — public speaking, hands down.
OK, maybe that's not as frightening as getting slimed by honey, but speaking in front of a group has terrified me for my entire adult life. Whether it's giving a speech at a friend's wedding reception or talking to a room full of 4th graders, I'm filled with a rush of panic as I begin to open my mouth. My hands go numb. My field of vision narrows. My voice begins to shake.
No matter how calm I was leading up to a speaking engagement, something happens when it's time to talk. I enter into something like a fugue state, losing the self-awareness to understand the words that are falling out of my mouth. I tend to stare at one person unrelentingly for the entire time, as though he or she is a spotter talking me down from a bad LSD trip. (I apologize to anyone who has met with my withering gaze.)
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Why am I bringing this up? Because over the last few months, I've stood in front of large groups numerous times and a funny thing has happened: I've started, slowly, to get more comfortable with it. I won't say I'm getting good at it, but I am facing my bogeyman head on and I'm growing to like it.
Next month, I, and a dozen other brave souls, will stand on the stage of a packed auditorium in Breckenridge for a candidate forum. One consolation is that I will be the one asking the questions. The candidates get to do the speechifying.
The Summit Daily, the Summit Association of Realtors and the Summit County Builders Association are sponsoring a comprehensive candidate forum from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, at the Colorado Mountain College auditorium in Breckenridge (107 Denison Placer Road).
The event is open to the public and will feature candidates from several races, including Summit County commissioner, districts two and three, sheriff, district attorney, State House District 61 and State Senate District 8. The event will also present both sides on ballot initiatives such as Summit School District funding, a sales tax for workforce housing construction, ColoradoCare (Amendment 69) and Raise the Bar (Amendment 71).
If politics gives you the shivers, come anyway. Consider it exposure therapy.
Ben Trollinger is the editor of the Summit Daily News. Contact him at (970) 668-4618 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.