I have chronic pain, (due to a hereditary degenerative disease in my spine--many of my discs are damaged, herniated or fused.) I also do a lot of public speaking, professionally. Recently, someone asked me how I juggle the two.
To be honest, it isn’t always easy.
When I get a request to speak, I need to screen for things that might be a red flag for my pain...
Like many people with an invisible illness, doing a public speaking gig requires a lot of extra preparation (so if you DON'T have one, this is the part of the blog post where you might want to take a moment to be grateful for all of the blessings in your life.)
Right now you may be thinking, "Why go through all this hassle? Why not just stay home instead?"
Well, to begin, I really enjoy public speaking (like, so much, I sometimes do it just for fun.) Yes, on the days when it’s hard to connect with the audience and my body is grumpy, the whole experience can be both literally and metaphorically a pain in my ass. But when it all works, it’s the best feeling in the world.
Secondly, I’m pretty good at public speaking (and I get better every time I do it.) I’d hate to toss all those skills and 20 years of experience into the garbage simply because it’s challenging. (Although, I’ll be honest, there are days when I consider doing just that.)
Lastly, on stage is one of the only times in my life when I’m NOT in pain. Yes, sometimes there is a twinge or a pop that signals an alarm. But for the most part, my adrenaline overrides all of my pain signals. There may be hell to pay afterwards, but for that moment in time, I can just be me.
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I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator & speaker with more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.