Hiding like a turtle

It all started in March of 1997, on a beautiful spring day in Pakistan. When my 6-year-old younger sister stood on a chair, behind a lectern, with her head barely visible, as she gave a thunderous speech to an audience of 1000 at our school. I was sitting where all the geeks sit. In the last row. I was impressed. And just like every impressed older brother, I told myself, that next time I will also give a speech and it will be better than hers.

Few months later I got an opportunity. Speech contest at our Independence Day. I enthusiastically signed up. But now I had to write a speech. I did the only reasonable thing an 8 year old could do. “Dad, can you write me a speech”, I begged my father. Two days before the event as I sat in classroom with my speech in my bag pack, Miss Kiran, with her short hair and bright smile entered the room and announced "Everyone who is going to give a speech, follow me, we are going to rehearse it". Few of my classmates left. She asked one last time. Anyone else. Khurram left, Miss Kiran left.. I never moved.

On that day, I told myself, no one cares what I say. Why should I speak? I started to speak less and less at school, less and less at home, I hid my self in my own shell like a turtle. Shell made of self doubt. With time this shell only grew stronger.

Years passed, I moved from school, to university. Started a job, moved to Poland yet the real me remained hidden in my own shell.

It all started to change on 13th July 2016, when I visited a toastmasters club. On my first meeting, I was encouraged to go on stage and given 4 words to create a fictional story as 2 min improvised speech. I told the most absurd story of my life. Something changed. I actually enjoyed doing it. The shell started to crack a bit. I joined the club. I gave many speeches. But I always had this nagging thought, no one really cares what I say. They clap at my speeches, because, well they are toastmasters. That is what they are supposed to do.

That was until 24th of August 2017, when I went to Lodz (Poland) to give a speech at a joint toastmasters meeting before a conference. Theme of the meeting. My city, my home. So, I talked about “A Pakistani in Poland”. My experience of living in my city as foreigner for 5 years. I told everything. All the good, the bad and the ugly. I spoke from my heart. Everyone Clapped. As toastmasters do. Two days later, Roy, a bored looking Irish guy living in Lodz for many years came to me during the conference and said.

Zain thanks for sharing your story. You put into words what I have been feeling as a foreigner living in Poland. That was not just your story, but story of all of us foreigners.

I was shocked. He cared about what I said. He related to what I said. That was the moment, my shell finally broke and the real me was born.

Now, not only I speak, I teach others how to find their voice and I love it. This blog is just a continuation of the story that started two years ago. With it, I am hoping to reach even more people, to share my knowledge, my thoughts and to have a conversation on topics that I deeply care about.

4 Comments

  1. Asfandyar Nasim
    27 July 2018

    Very nice. Keep it Up Bro !!

    Reply
    1. Zain
      27 July 2018

      Thank you Asfand for support.

      Reply
  2. Bilal Ahmad
    27 July 2018

    Good Work!!

    Reply
    1. Zain
      27 July 2018

      Thank you Sir.

      Reply

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