Today I gave what was probably the worst presentation of my life.
it was for my philosophy class at uni. I had to give a five minute speech on a topic of my choice. I was stressed about this assessment in a way that was highly disproportionate to it’s worth. The speech itself was only worth 10% of my final mark, but for me, this was the opportunity to prove myself. See I’ve never taken a philosophy class before. I’ve never really taken any class like it, so all the material we’re covering, the methods of reasoning, the essay topics and essay structures, all of it is brand new. So this speech, the first significant thing I’ve ever had to do for this class, was my opportunity to prove that I could handle it. Pretty much just to myself, but I’m not going to lie, I’m guilty of being a massive show off. My reasoning was, philosophy is something I’m new too, but because I work hard and try, really try, to do well, I will.
And I fucked it up. Badly.
As I read my speech, I could feel something was wrong. You know that feeling you sometimes get, that sinking feeling when you know you’re about to go flying down the hill at full speed with no brakes and are entirely powerless to stop it. Yeah. I got that.
When I finished my speech, there was dead silence. Twenty odd pairs of eyes staring, looks varying between pity, bemusement and one I interpreted as, “seriously dude?”
My tutor stood up, cleared his throat, and demolished me.
Every aspect of my argument got torn to shreds. I was wrong on a whole new level of wrong. The only way I could have been more wrong was to read my speech in reverse. I stood in front of my peers as my tutor explained to me in explicit detail how I had interpreted my research incorrectly, my ideas were completely off track, I had drawn all sort of false conclusions and obviously hadn’t been careful when wording my argument. Every single fibre of my being told me to run, run, run, go jump in the moat and hide with the ducks. But I didn’t. His casual dissecting of my carefully constructed speech took a different turn, and my tutor began to ask me questions, to try and clarify my position, to try and understand how I had arrived at the conclusions I had. And I tried, I really tried to explain, face hot and hands shaking. But finally I did something I never do. I gave up.
I’m sorry, I don’t know. I just… don’t know.
By now the looks of my classmates faces had unanimously transformed into one of pity. I hated it. The original stunned feeling of dread ebbed away and was replaced by a horrendous degree of humiliation. Humiliation, frustration, and bitter disappointment. How had I got it so completely wrong?
Luckily, I made it out of the room before I started crying, but even that was it’s own special kind of humiliating hell. I do not cry. Ever. I hate it. And it felt ridiculous to cry over something that matter so little. But I was embarrassed and I felt like such an idiot, such an enormous dunderbrained idiot.
You know how sometimes you get that feeling that all your accomplishments so far have been a massive fluke that’s going to come crashing down on you at any moment, and everyone will see what a useless phoney you really are?
Today felt like that moment. Like the world was seeing how stupid I actually am, and how all my clever talk and grades and confidence has been this massive fabricated facade.
It doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t. But it hurt, a lot. And my ego and confidence are both a bit bruised.
I know full well how pathetic it is to wallow in self pity like this. And I know it’s not a big deal. And I know it’s not the end of the world and I can work harder and do better next time.
It’s just that right here and now, It’s difficult to believe it.