I was devastated in grade 12, when - as well as Johnny Depp being well out of my grasp - I was in the national final of long-forgotten-name High School Public Speaking Competition…
…and I came second.
I was so close! Yet I failed! And I’d never get another shot at it.
Decades later I realise:
a) these things actually don’t matter as much as teenaged Jenny thought they did (a close second is my realisation that I would not, in fact, ever meet let alone marry Luke Perry);
b) that I was lucky enough to be scooped up afterwards and taken directly to the Italian food haven that is Melbourne’s Lygon Street. My consolation feast featured the most delicious cheesy pizza in existence - I can still taste it - thus teaching me that sometimes disappointment can lead to overeating issues deliciousness, and the power of being utterly cheesy;
and finally and most importantly…
c) that I was not the amazing speaker I thought I was.
DA DA DA!!! (That was a bombshell sound effect in case you couldn’t tell.)
You see, I thought because I was great at memorising my entire speech by heart - every gesture, every inflection, and of course, every word - that THAT was what a good speaker did!
Note: I also thought that Bold and the Beautiful contained stellar acting because WHO could do TEARS ON CUE for YEARS ON END?
Now I know that actually, communicating has so much less to do with memorising, than it does to connecting and adapting: being able to read the room and adjust where necessary.
It’s okay to have a script, but it’s not great to be married to it.
Mind you, if the script doing the proposing was the script for Dirty Dancing, I dare say I would have been a beaming teenaged bride.
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