The email was sweet and simple. â€œWould you consider speaking to the incoming Masters of Liberal Studies class again?â€ The words took me by surprise because I had graduated from the MLS program in the spring of 2013 and, after speaking to the incoming class last fall semester, thought my usefulness to the program had been spent.
I responded that I would do it, but wondered why they didnâ€™t select a more recent, fresh, trendy graduate. Perhaps one who had caused major career ripples as opposed to my mirror-like calm. â€œNope. We want you.â€
While I adore my professors, I donâ€™t have the same affection for public speaking. Itâ€™s something I work on in the womb of my office, with two cats making grumpy faces as they try to sleep through my practice speeches.
I pulled up my Power Point and made a few tweaks. Then I redrafted my accompanying paper to better represent my views on the MLS program now that Iâ€™ve been away for a while. What amazed me was my lack of panic. I usually get butterflies days before the due date, but this time the fluttery feeling was peaceful. Strange, but in a good way.
Last night I made my way into the classroom and plunked my purse and flash drive on the desk. It all felt so familiar. The rows of tables slightly askew, like exclamation points punctuated by chairs. The smells of brains at work, backpacks, and institutionalized learning. Had I really graduated?
A young man approached asking if I was an instructor. No, just a recycled student, I responded. He smiled and moved on. A few minutes later one of my professors arrived and began setting up my Power Point. She knows me too well. Iâ€™m completely lost when it comes to ever-changing technology. In fact I was relieved when my professor, a woman very skilled in technology, had to call in the IT person. Something wasnâ€™t working, and class was about to start. Again, instead of gut-wrenching fear –â€œWHAT IF MY POWER POINT DOESNâ€™T WORK?â€–I felt relaxed. Weird. Very weird.
The Power Point did work, and the class seemed to listenâ€¦at least most of them. I noticed a few who were off on a mental vacation, but thatâ€™s okay. Maybe hearing about a Capstone Project on creativity and menopausal women isnâ€™t everybodyâ€™s idea of gripping story telling. Pffft. Whatever.
Afterwards my professor told me it was my best presentation yet, and wondered how I felt about it. I said I was nervous, yes, but not as during presentations given in the past. She asked if I had a theory why. â€œWeeeeell, Iâ€™m not getting graded for one thing.â€ She laughed at the truth.
As I waved goodbye to the class one of the professors said, â€œSee you next year.â€ I stopped in my tracks for just an instance. Realizing maybe I do have something to say was the best part of my day.