That First Step! Childhood should be the happiest time in a personâ€™s life. Now do not get me wrong, I loved being a kid, every single minute of it. Expressing myself verbally was always my downfall. I would always get tongue-tied upon meeting new people and would try to avoid them at all costs. This resulted in me being unable to make friends. Being an only child, I was alone and lonely most of the time but my imagination kept me busy. I had (and still do, even to this day) about 5 Barbie and 4 Ken dolls with their accessories, and boy, the adventures we used to have! I used this excuse to escape from reality, and became more withdrawn and isolated. Even when my father passed away when I was a teenager I never showed any emotion, presenting a stoic face to all. Behind closed doors was a different matter however. When I was all alone in my room, I would sob bitterly into my pillow, as I wouldnâ€™t want my mother to overhear me. I had no outlet, no other way to express my inner turmoil. This is when I turned to writing. I began pouring my heart out on paper, with tears streaming down my face every time I held a pen in my hand. This somehow seemed to cleanse me from the pain and anger that was deep within me. However, these writings were never designed for the public eye, and I never thought that they would ever see the light of day. A couple of years ago, another life-changing event happened that made me alter my perception on reality. My mother had to leave the country she had called her home for more than 45 years and more to the point, she would be leaving me. I was distraught as I felt that it was my fault that she could not stay here, because of my failure in life which was all due to my insecurities and fears. I felt that it was my responsibility to look after her at this stage of her life, and I was failing miserably.
This is when I took the first step forward and attended a Manama Toastmasters Club meeting. There were so many things holding me back; deadlines that had to be met, other meetings that coincided with the Toastmasters meeting etc, but I knew that if I kept on making excuses, I would never ever make it. I squashed the little voice in my head that said that I wasnâ€™t quite good enough. As I attended the meeting room, everyone was so friendly and for the first time I felt that I truly belonged. I had a hard time at first, thinking of what to speak about, even though I had cabinets laden with diaries and notebooks at home. I felt nobody would be interested in what I had to say, and that there would be several stifled yawns and rolling of the eyes. However I was informed that stories which were drawn on personal experiences were well received, so I decided to take the plunge. Squaring my shoulders as I delivered my first speech, I was stunned when I received positive feedback, especially when one Toastmaster came forward to tell me that she could not hold back her tears as I spoke. Over the years, through trial and error, I discovered that I prefer to make people laugh compared to making them all weepy and sentimental. I have realized that with Toastmasters, I have discovered a viable outlet for my swirling kaleidoscope of thoughts and emotions. I do realize that I have a long way to go. I still get that numbness before I step up to speak, sometimes completely forgetting what I have to say despite practicing for weeks. However, the encouragement and smiles on the faces as I look around at my family in Toastmasters makes me realize that I am accepted. With a sigh of contentment, I firmly close the door of my past behind me, and walk confidently into the future.