Several years ago now, I knew a lady who was about the age that I am presently. One thing that she said repeatedly was that she didn’t want to participate in any activity that required her to learn a new skill. She figured she had enough skills to last her the rest of her life.
At the time, I thought it was funny. I couldn’t imagine the day would ever come when I would not want to learn a new skill.
Today: “Oh, hello, Day when I do not want to learn a new skill!”
The fact is that I had to learn not one but three new skills in order to do what I had committed myself to do this evening. Several months ago, I rashly mentioned to our writers’ group leader that I had attended a class at Realm Makers featuring a method of evaluating fiction that I thought was very helpful. She in turn asked me to give a presentation on it at this month’s meeting (tonight).
The first thing I had to do was get permission from the originator of the material. That was easy. I already had that skill.
Then I had to learn how to create a graph using Excel. It was a little scary, but there is plenty of help on the internet and I at least was able to create something that could pass for a graph from a distance if need be, and ta da! I had a new skill.
Recently (like maybe Sunday or yesterday) I realized that I should probably use Power Point to present the material. The only problem was that I have successfully avoided learning anything at all about Power Point for as long as Power Point has been in existence. And suddenly, here I was being forced to learn something! Again, Google was my friend. I hate to brag, but I actually created a 36-slide Power Point presentation on my first try. I had yet another new skill, and I was pretty smug about it.
I asked to borrow our church’s projector so I could present my Power Point slideshow at the meeting tonight, and a fine young man dropped it off at my house yesterday. That’s when I realized that I had no idea how to operate the projector and hook it up to my computer and all that stuff. I’ll admit, at that point I felt a little beleaguered. I was tired of learning stuff.
Then there was the whole part where my grandiose plans of having multiple examples to show fell through because I just did not have time.
Walter showed me how to operate the projector on his lunch break today and I worked on my presentation until about 10 minutes before I had to leave for the library. I got there and the room was empty, but to my delight the screen was down and the library’s projector was already set up so I didn’t even have to use the one I had brought!
Vickie is sick and was unable to come, so Bill came and he called in a library employee to show us how to turn on the lights, and I asked her to show me how to work the projector and it was actually pretty easy.
For a long time Bill and I just sat there. Then Barbara came. I was thinking it was a big mistake to print 15 copies of the handout I had created. Eventually I think we had 12 people.
I totally botched the presentation. I don’t know what got into me. I talked too fast, I didn’t say all the clever things I had planned to say, and I rushed through everything. I was afraid it would take too long to go through 36 slides. Not with me at the wheel! I zoomed through in something ridiculous like 20 minutes. Everybody got to go home early, even though Bill stalled for me both before and after I spoke! I have no idea if anyone cared at all about my topic or if they were just being very polite.
There’s a really good reason why I don’t take myself too seriously. You can’t take yourself too seriously if you keep humiliating yourself in public. I handle it a lot better than I used to. After all, I worked really, really hard on this presentation. I got the information out there even if I did it poorly. Tomorrow I’ll have a ton of other stuff to do, so there’s no point in beating myself up over what happened tonight!
Oh, I guess I should mention the good thing that happened. The one example that I actually got done was using Edgar Allen Poe’s masterful short story, “The Cask of Amontillado.” No one else in the room was familiar with it. I’m pretty sure that several of them went home determined to find it and read it. Yay me.