by Lydeisha Gossett
Last summer during a webinar for work, I fumbled through a response to a question for which I was not prepared. It was grueling. I mentally replayed the scene long after the moment had passed. My inner critic would find another mistake and destroy my confidence. To cope with emotional responses like this, I adopted avoidance as a coping skill. It seemed easier than facing diagnosed social anxiety. Deciding to do something about it, I reached out to a well-known member (shout out Joyce Trimble) for meeting information. I attended and joined the club immediately.
I have been paired with a mentor who will support me on my path, and we have outlined three key long-term objectives:
- fostering a receptive attitude towards feedback,
- developing effective anxiety management skills, and
- celebrating personal achievements.
I want to be more in control of myself and my emotions in social settings to better handle the fear of judgment or what might be said of me. Toastmasters helped me to improve my emotional responses and interpersonal communication skills through the members and Pathways available.
Mr. Cooper Speaks Toastmasters Club has helped me be encouraged and inspired to get involved. I was welcomed, included, and supported by compassionate members. I was in a safe space where my inner critic would be challenged to allow me a chance to grow. Week after week, I was validated, seen, and uplifted. Members gave speeches about topics I related to but kept internal. Emotional intelligence is not taboo, which really helps with regulating emotional responses. Feedback provided after speeches has boosted my confidence and desire to improve. I am encouraged to be my best self. I can be vulnerable and still speak my truth without judgment. This first year has been amazing! I had the opportunity to be a timer, a WAG, a contest helper, and a meeting Toastmaster. I am two speeches away from completing Level 2 of Team Collaboration pathway.
Last month I was nominated for and am now Vice President Membership for 2023-24. Toastmasters is more than a public speaking club to me. It is a safe place where invaluable skills in interpersonal communication can be cultivated.