Anxiety in Speaking in Sacrament Meeting

Years ago, in preparing for a Young Women “Values” themed sacrament meeting, I mentioned to a member of the Young Women presidency that I was not sure what to speak about. “It doesn’t really matter,” she assured me. You know what the value is that you’ve been assigned to present, so just tell us a story about it. You’ll do great anyway. We start children giving talks in primary, so by the time you are a (14 year old) Mia Maid, you’ve been speaking in public for a decade! This is why Mormons are great public speakers. You’ll do fine!”

 

At the time, her words did calm me. I thought, “I can do this! I’ve been giving talks for 10 years!” I had not been afraid of giving speeches on the debate team or in English class, and as a rule, wasn’t nervous but for that last burst of excited anticipwoman-podiumation that strikes me just before the words came out. But church talks were and are different. To be clear, I could do them. But they made me more nervous than addressing almost every other kind of audience.

 

As the years passed, and even to this day, when I speak in public- (the thing that is listed as the greatest fear, even over death)  I remind myself that I can do this because “I learned to not be afraid of speaking when I was in primary.” I’ve presented at conferences and meetings and even been disappointed at the smallness of the audience upon occasion; I am a good public speaker and I know it. But. When church speaking assignments came…. the butterflies and anxiety started. I became cranky and argue with my family. I fret and fast and pray for calm. No matter the topic, no matter how well I know it or how many hours I spent in preparation, I became anxiety-ridden. So why is that?

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“What’s your plan when you get home?”

Girl with Books

I always ask missionaries about their schooling. Did they attend college or trade school before serving a mission? Are they planning to go back? What are they planning to study and why? I know that’s a lot of pressure for a young person who’s supposed to be 100 percent dedicated to service for 18 to 24 months, but it’s the luck of the draw, kid: I prep students for the SAT, and my husband is a college professor.

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Aspiring Mormon Women Events

written by Naomi Watkins

Awhile back we featured the origin story of the awesome group Aspiring Mormon Women, a non-profit organization that supports and encourages LDS women’s educational and professional endeavors. This month, AMW will host its first events outside of Utah—in Boston and D.C./Northern Virginia.  (Registration Links and Details below.)

One aspiring Mormon woman shared her experience attending AMW events:

“I have found a sisterhood of motivated, talented women who thoughtfully and passionately pursue personal excellence. I enjoy mingling, networking, and having spirited conversations with my AMW sisters. Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to attend three Aspiring Mormon Women events. On February 25, at the AMW networking event in Provo, Utah, I enjoyed meeting and reconnecting with many inspiring women living in Utah County. In addition to the formal events arranged by Aspiring Mormon Women, the organization encourages women to organize meet-up groups in their area. I helped arrange a small AMW meetup in Provo on May 1; we had a delicious dinner at Guru’s Cafe and spent the evening strolling around downtown Provo, talking about our families, education, careers, frustrations, and successes. Finally, on June 4, I attended the Aspiring Mormon Women event with Ruth Todd, the VP of Public Affairs for Nu Skin International, and former news anchor and spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For me, one highlight of the evening was the group’s discussion about the importance of teaching young women to avoid limiting themselves with narrow notions about what women can or should do, and instead, helping young women pursue goals that match their individual strengths, talents, and interests. I love the fantastic discussions and delightful connections that always take place at AMW events!”

Sound awesome to you, too? Then, please, will you…

  • Share this post with your friends to spread the word
  • Join us at this month’s events if you’re in the Boston or D.C. area (see details below)
  • Connect with AMW online via our blog and Facebook discussion forum

 

Boston | Friday, June 19, 7–9 p.m.

AMW Boston Event

A Panel Discussion + Networking Event

We’ve assembled a panel of women from various careers, life stages, and paths to provide a stimulating, supportive, and enriching conversation about education and career as an LDS woman. Our first event outside of the Wasatch Front, this evening will provide a great opportunity to meet other Aspiring Mormon Women in the Boston area.

Register here.

 

D.C. | Saturday, June 27, 7–9 p.m.

AMW DC Event

A Night Out with Aspiring Mormon Women D.C.

Meet like-minded LDS women pursuing educational and professional goals. Come for an evening of support, encouragement, and networking.

The first hour will be an unstructured mixer. The second hour will include structured networking activities, including speed networking and discussion groups about career planning, nurturing the aspirations of young women, and other related topics.

Register here.

 

 

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Series: #visiblewomen: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: Primary Pictures

I teach Primary Sharing Time.  I love it.

I love the teaching, the stories, the kids, and the fun.  When we talk about Jesus, I tell the children the stories of His life and the men and women He lived and worked with.  When we talk about the courage to do what is right, I read from “Girls Who Choose God”.  When we talk about faith, I tell them of both Nephi and Abigal.

I tell them stories from my own life and any stories of President Wixom that I can find.

I use pictures a lot.  Aside from the pictures I bring myself, there are few pictures of women.  I will be writing a letter to President Wixom and her counselors, asking them to consider including more pictures of women and girls in packets / manuals provided to Primary teachers.

I believe this will be a great advantage to both girls and boys.  They will learn that both women and men can be examples of faith, courage, and service.  And they can strive to be like them.

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In The Meantime: Finding A Personal Ministry

every member a minister. 1395453_10151773808308717_127812155_nThis post is my last as a regular contributor to The-Exponent blog. My time here has been a profound and delightful blessing. Exponent women are among the best people I have ever encountered and I will always remain a part of this community, but I’ve felt pulled in a slightly different direction with writing. In this post, I share one example of why I’m making a change. Writing for The-Exponent has helped prepare me for whatever comes next. For this reason it is quite impossible for me to adequately express my gratitude for the remarkable gift of Exponent in all its iterations.

Thank you, readers and blog contributors, for enlarging my heart and mind with your unique and compelling stories. Thank you for being my sisters. I love you.

*        *        *

I sometimes find myself slipping back into the mind of my child self as I make the daily forty-mile commute to work on the train. FrontRunner traverses the I-15 corridor between Utah county and Weber county each day. While I was growing up, we passed the Point of the Mountain hundreds of times either coming or going from Provo to Salt Lake City. The point itself has receded through the years and has lost some of what defines it as a “point.” Earth has been scraped away and used for road base or concrete mix or who knows what all else. All I know is that a monumental structure–a mountain–has been changed over time. The north-facing slope where we used to watch dune buggies and four wheelers crawling up The Widow-Maker is now covered with subdivisions of homes. I still don’t understand how those houses got there. The mountain face is changed forever and, even though I’ve watched it slowly recede, it still surprises me sometimes that it is now so different from what it used to be.

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Being a Bossy Mormon Woman

bossy

There’s been a lot of talk about the word “bossy” lately. Sheryl Sandberg ala Lean In and Facebook started a Ban Bossy website that promotes leadership in girls. And of course there’s backlash from those who say bossiness and leadership have nothing to do with one another; and others who object to the campaign because they refuse to accept “bossy” as a pejorative term, and instead, like Tina Fey, Ms. Bossypants herself, embrace it.

I’m no stranger to the word bossy. I’ve been called it (and another lovely b-word) many times in my life. My sister and I got to a point in college where we wore it like a badge. I remember a time we were playing a game at a birthday party and had divided into two teams, Angela (the sassy blond you see above) and I in separate groups. People were having a hard time deciding how to proceed so I waited for a minute or two and when I sensed a leadership vacuum, I took charge. I have no desire to run the show, but when surrounded by passivity I go a bit nuts. A friend of my sister’s stood up and shouted at me, “I picked this team because I didn’t want to be with your bossy sister! But I think you may be worse!” and he stormed off to the punch bowl. My sister and I burst out laughing and were not so secretly proud of our take-charge abilities. We get stuff done.

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