The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “table topics”

Spending Time with Friends

A week ago on Monday I met up with my friend Jennifer who I hadn’t seen since the summer.  She wanted to meet at a Starbucks I’d never been to before, but I looked it up on google maps and found it without any trouble.  Although I haven’t been making trips too far away, all these little trips to new places have been helpful.  Eventually I want to try some longer distances.  When I first drove to both of my colleges last semester for the first days of school that was very nerve-racking, but now I feel comfortable driving to those places.

Last week on Thursday night I had my first yoga class, which was also in a new place I’d never been to, but I found it no problem as well.  When I got to the class there was a lady and a man sitting outside on chairs looking bored (the man was practically sleeping actually).  I went up to the lady and immediately asked her if this was the yoga class, then I sat down and we started talking from there.  That one question, “Is this the ____ class?” is often how I start talking to people I don’t know.  It works!  We talked the rest of the time while we were waiting and admitted that we were both yoga newbies and didn’t know what to expect.  When we started the class, we found out that it had actually started a week before even!  I was confused by that and she was too, but luckily we were able to stick together and catch up.  The class was alright.  I had trouble completely relaxing though because I wanted to check and see if I was doing the poses right. I think the more I do it the more I’ll be able to calm my mind and keep my eyes closed.  It was interesting though.  Some of the poses were a little difficult to hold but others I felt good with.

I’ve been pretty busy seeing a lot of friends lately.  I’ve been going out every day practically, and I’ve been loving it.  I saw my friend Doug and got to know Susie better when we went hiking/exploring together around a beach, which was cool.  It was a beautiful day and it was nice being out in the sunshine.  I went to Berkeley with Gabi, Isis, and Aaron on Friday too and that was fun.  UC Berkeley is a really beautiful campus.  I went swing dancing afterward that night and invited Gabi and Isis since we had room, and it was one of the best nights of dancing in a long time.  I danced a lot and had a lot of great dances.  I followed for some of the night, led for the other, danced east coast swing at times, then lindy hop, then some west coast, and then ended the night with some blues dancing.  I hadn’t danced blues much at all before, but one of my friends Stu helped explain to me the movement, and now I understand it much better.  It was fun!

I also went to a Belly Dance Performance recently with my friend Angela to see my friend Johanna (one of the friends I made at college when I was trying to make new friends!), and that was a great night.  Angela and I got lost and ended up going to the next city over, but eventually we found our way back and found a place to eat.  I was glad I wasn’t driving though because the directions were confusing and google maps didn’t work out this time.  Angela and I had a great night together and had a good bonding day discussing a lot of personal matters.  She’s like my sister and we can tell each other any and everything.  When we finally arrived at the performance place, we watched the show and had a great time.  Johanna did awesome and so did the other belly dancers.  The live band was really great to listen to and the belly dancing was really neat to watch.

I saw my friend K Tuesday too, who is also a friend I made at college when I was trying to make new friends.  I’ve hung out with K and Johanna the most from college and it’s great that I made two good friends so quickly.  I know we’re going to be long-time friends.  K and I played tennis and it was fun, though very tiring.  Despite running and walking every day I forgot how intense tennis can be.  We rallied a while and then played 2 out of 3 games.  K wanted to bet something so he bet that the loser would buy coffee, but I won so he ended up having to buy his own coffee and buying me hot chocolate.  It was fun and it was nice walking around and showing him my town.  He excitedly asked if I had my camera and I said yes, and so of course we took a lot of pictures (like the one posted here).  Picture taking is a simple activity but it’s a lot of fun when you use creativity for your poses and people tend to know that I love pictures and love taking them with me.

So I’ve been busy seeing a lot of friends, and it’s been great because I hadn’t seen a lot of them in a while.  The winter break is about to end soon though so we will all be more busy with school soon.  I also went to Toastmasters recently and tried the Timer role for once, and at first I was confused but eventually I figured out how the set-ups worked.  I still got called up for an impromptu speech with Table Topics though.  I had been hoping I wouldn’t be picked since I hadn’t been in a while and Table Topics is still the most nerve-racking part of Toastmasters, but I responded to the question, “What would you do if you won 10 million dollars?” and spoke for a little under two minutes, then sat back down.  I pulled every idea of what I would do out of my head though I didn’t really have any time to plan or think about what I wanted to say.  I said more “um’s” than usual because it had been a while since I’d been to Toastmasters, but funnily enough I ended up winning “Best Table Topics speaker”, which was reassuring and encouraging.  I also recently had to call for an appointment with a counselor at one of my colleges, and I still felt that familiar nervous feeling, but I made the call and set up an appointment for myself.  The woman I spoke to was a little rude and huffy, but I understand because it’s probably not a fun job dealing with students all day and scheduling appointments.  Those are some updates of how things have been going post-project.

Bringing the Story Game to Table Topics

4th night of Toastmasters  (6-29-11)

On this night of Toastmasters, I was the table topics leader.

My dad kicked off the meeting with two jokes.  He told a golf one and used his arms and gestures to make the joke more animated.  He didn’t look at any notes and I was impressed considering he told me he hadn’t practiced much.  Then the wordmaster explained the word of the evening, languid, and then my name was called to lead the table topics.

I felt nervous the moment I entered the building, and even more nervous as it got closer and closer to my time to stand up before the group and give my little introductory speech.

But I smiled, shook Marcy’s hand, and stood at the podium.  I started off by saying I hoped this wouldn’t be a languid table topics discussion, which got some chuckles.

I said what I had planned to say without looking at my notes, I smiled, I used my arms, and even leveled my voice a little.  The big smiles of my fellow toastmasters put me at ease and comforted me.  Beforehand I had tried to imagine this going well and people enjoying my table topics, and I think that helped.  I practiced in front of the mirror quite a bit too, and once in front of my mom before I left.

I explained what the purpose of table topics is (to practice impromptu speaking) and introduced my topic.  I told them how earlier in the summer I had gone camping and was introduced to a game my friends called “the story game.”  I explained how it worked in detail and summarized it once more to make it as understandable as I could. (*Basically, you’re given three words selected by the audience and have to make up a story using them.)  I then called Houston up to be the first speaker.  She did a great job as she always does.  I then called up another person, one by one, until I had pretty much called on a majority of the group.  If people weren’t called on to speak I at least included them by asking for the three word suggestions for the speakers to use, which got everyone involved during the 15 minute segment.

After each speaker spoke, I led the applause, shook hands with them, picked another person, and asked the audience for three more words.  Everyone really got into it and they all did wonderful.  Some stories made the group roar with laughter and I felt like everyone was really enjoying themselves.

Afterward during the break and at the end of the meeting, I was told that I did an excellent job and that I looked very comfortable up at the podium already.  I received big smiles and Larry (our new president) told the group that was a very innovative table topics, and that he’d never seen anything like that done before.  (Wow!)  He said it was a lot of fun and it involved everyone in the group.  Others told me that they thought that table topics was a lot of fun too, and I was happy to hear that.  I didn’t even know if I should use it for a table topics or not because I didn’t know if telling stories would count as practicing impromptu speeches, but I’m glad I went for it anyway.  I was very happy with myself afterward, and I volunteered to be the jokemaster for the following week.

My dad and I were made official members this night too.  We were presented with a toastmasters pin, card, and certificate.  Everyone had to approve our joining and they all clapped for us at the end.  Several said “Welcome, new members”, with a smile.  I am now an official Toastmaster!

Impromptu Speeches- Table Topics

3rd Night of Toastmasters (6-22-11)

Guess who just gave an impromptu speech?  This girl!

On this night of Toastmasters each person picked for Table Topics had to go up to the podium and draw a piece of paper out of a jar.  Each paper had a few lines from a song on it and the speaker would have to make up a speech out of it on the spot.  I averted my eyes at first to avoid getting called on, but eventually gave in after I saw several others do it, including my dad.

My dad got a song lyric about dying and started it off by saying “I’ve never thought about dying much.”  He went on to talk about how everyone dies eventually, but he knows that he has a good daughter who will make him proud and already has.  He talked about how my mom’s parents aren’t doing well right now and are in the hospital, and all his talk of death made me tear up a little.  I thought “great, now I’m going to be all emotional before it’s my turn to speak.”  He spoke some more of me and said that I’m very smart, hard-working, and compassionate, and that he knows that I’m going to do some great things in the world and make a difference.

My dad and I have more of a relationship where we do more things together like tennis and softball but don’t talk much, so it was touching to hear him tell everyone how proud of me he is and how he thinks a lot of me.

When my name was called (gulp), I got up and shook the Table Topics Leader’s hand and reached into the jar for a piece of paper.  The first one I pulled out was Spanish lyrics from “La Bamba”, which didn’t trigger anything in me so I returned it exclaiming that it was written in Spanish which got some chuckles.

I reached in again and got a lyric that had to do with a poor boy and drugs or something, so I put that back and reached again.  I then got one about falling in love and put that back…

I could feel the apprehension in the room as I rejected lyric after lyric.  I began to panic and realized that the others were probably getting fed up with me and that I was wasting time.

Luckily, I pulled out one lyric supposedly from something like “dreaming on a river” that had a line about dreams.  I figured that was good enough and I could come up with some sort of speech about that on the spot.

I read it over once more as I approached the podium.  I then looked up, and greeted everyone with “Fellow Toastmasters.”  I read the portion of the lyric I was given, which was 4 or 5 lines maybe.  At first I was just reading it but then realized what I was doing and made sure to look up.

I talked about how this song lyric reminded me of how I am undecided about my major and career path.  I pulled everything out of my head that came to me while standing up there before the group.  I talked about how I wanted to do something that I was passionate about and don’t want just another job.   I told them how two of the careers I’m considering are occupational therapy and international business.     I expressed how I feel conflicted in whether to devote my time helping the people in poorer countries through volunteer work only or if I should try and incorporate that into my job as well.

I believe I used some ums, ahs, and spoke a little fast at times and didn’t sustain eye contact with each individual as long as I would have liked to have, and I basically repeated one of the things I said when talking about passion and making a difference.

After I finished, I paused, and said the typical closing “Fellow Toastmasters”.  Everyone clapped and I sat back down in my seat, feeling a little embarrassed because I didn’t think I did that great.  I did feel like I was just talking to them rather than giving a “speech” though, so at least I didn’t feel too nervous up at the podium.

At the end of the meeting the Toastmaster made a special announcement that my dad and I did an excellent job and said “let’s hear it for their first time up at the podium!” Everyone applauded and beamed at us, and I blushed and smiled, appreciating the support.

At the evaluation for the winner of table topics, Marcy won (who I voted for too), though somehow my dad and I got a lot of votes too and it was close!  I thought that was crazy, how would people vote for me when I’m up against so many amazing speakers?  The evaluator told me I did a great job to my surprise (I was nervous for the evaluations even) and only had a couple of “so’s” apparently though I thought I did more than that.  He said I did an outstanding job for a new member.  After the meeting was adjourned, Marcy complimented me and said I looked so relaxed and comfortable up at the podium giving the speech.  I was delightfully surprised and said really?  I told her that I was glad it came off that way because I thought I did really bad and was nervous for it.  She said I did excellent.  She was interested by the fact that I want to make a difference and that I’m interested in two very different paths like occupational therapy and international business.  She told me that she wishes she had done more research before deciding on a field.

Larry told me I did a really good job and I told him that I didn’t think I had the best organization but he said he thought it was very well organized and that he thought it was great how I turned a line into a speech about college and careers.  He said he voted for me!

Rebecca came over and talked to me a while about careers and majors and how it’s best to explore and take different classes too.

It was a great success, and it wasn’t so bad speaking in front of the group, especially now that I feel I’m among friends.  I volunteered to lead the Table Topics discussion for the following week, and everyone smiled and seemed happy that I was jumping right in already.  My dad volunteered to be the jokemaster too after he saw that I was going to do something.

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