The Big Speech

by Chris de Serres

I’ll just have to be enough.  I said this to myself right before I got onstage to do a talk in front of 100 of my peers.  At the beginning of the week, the migraine headaches came on.  Relentlessly.  Last night I tossed and turned in bed, going over and over what I would say in the morning.  I wanted to be funny, but serious.  I wanted my team to know I thought they were awesome, innovative, and a pleasure to be around.

They served breakfast before my program.  I couldn’t eat much.  I shuffled my legs and fiddled with my hands and arms.  I shifted from one position to the next.  My feet fell asleep and I struggled to wake them up.

My program appeared on the big screen and I almost bolted toward the door.  The emcee called me over.  I felt pain in my face and tried to shake out a charlie-horse in my left leg.

I know I was up there.  I know I said something.  Yet, I don’t remember any of it.  I just remember applause and introducing the next speaker.  Many of my peers approached me and shook my hand.  Told me how great I did.

All I could think was they say that to everybody.  They are just trying to be nice.

Now I sit at my office, trying to remember what happened.  I wonder if my peers liked it.  If I sounded anxious or awkward.  My mind races back and forth.  Then the body unclenches and all I want to do is sleep.  It is lunchtime.  An hour has passed and I realize i’ve been sitting here staring off into space.  Too tired to formulate thoughts.  Too muddled to respond to even the most basic email.  I’m talking to clients but i’m not really here.