April 4, 2019
“Let’s welcome Yael Pachino to the stage!” and everyone started to clap. I stood up from my seat in the back of the room. Took a deep breath in. I tried to smile as I walked up to the stage. The lights were bright. The clapping was loud and the butterflies in my stomach were fluttering like never before. I turn to face the crowd, put one hand on the microphone and feel complete and utter fear. It was Tribe 12’s Fellowship Pitch Night and I was one of the 2019 Fellows. I had about 0.2 seconds to start my pitch before the silence became awkward and uncomfortable. Here. Goes. Nothing, “Racheal was crying,” I heard myself begin.
I had practiced for this. I had literally spent hours trying to memorize the 172 words, in the shower, on the stair-master, on the way to the gym, on the way back from the gym and even when I was brushing my teeth. Over the last week, I have recited my pitch so many times that I honestly think Robert had it memorized too. Yet, no amount of preparation was relieving the nerves and fear I had of reciting a memorized speech in front of hundreds of people. Memorized being the keyword.
Don’t get me wrong, usually, I don’t mind public speaking at all! When I can just get up there and do my thing, it feels like second nature. But this was different. This was way more than just speaking about something I love. This was a pitch about something I had been dreaming about. This was a pitch I had been working towards for months. This was THE pitch and I was terrified.
Memorization has never been my strong suit. To be honest, it’s been a challenge ever since I was in elementary school dealing with my learning disabilities for the first time. Although, my learning disability had never been fully diagnosed, I know my limits. I know what I struggle with and I know how hard I have to work to overcome it. Just because I am adult, doesn’t make it easier. Unfortunately, society doesn’t seem to always comprehend that.
So as I stood there, on stage, feeling like I was back to being 9 years old in my 5th grade play “The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks”, I looked out into the crowd and felt the love. The only thing I saw was smiling faces and warm eyes looking up at me. I knew I was surrounded by an incredibly supportive and understanding group of people. I knew this community, my community, only wants the best for me. I knew this group of people would not judge me if I fumbled. Although, I felt my entire body shaking the entire minute and thirteen seconds I was up there, all I could do was stand up straight and power through.
That is all we can really do, isn’t it? Jump on in and ignore the fears. Prepare and believe in yourself. Work hard and have faith in your determination. No matter how scary it is, how intimidating it feels, if it is worth it, you will have the strength to overcome. Don’t give up on yourself. You are more powerful than you think.