The day was 02-02-2020. The number in the date itself was telling me something intriguing is going to happen in my life. After joining the newly formed Yeti Toastmasters, the ice-breaking moment, the ice breaker speech had arrived. Nervousness, fear, and uneasiness, all three feelings mixed up together like chemical reactions were boiling inside me. The meeting started, and my urinary bladder was telling my small mind that I must go to the bathroom again, but my big mind was telling me “You can do this Ashraya! Just take a long breath, there is nothing to worry about.”

I had one week to prepare my icebreaker speech. I was going through all the pathway materials, and icebreaker videos from the Toastmaster International webpage. I had two mentors, Toastmaster Shraddha Joshi from SCB Nepal Toastmasters who is a very jolly and energetic individual, and Toastmaster Shristi Vaidya from Kathmandu Toastmasters who is also my cousin sister. Their immense help and kind suggestions uplifted me during my speech preparation. 

Only two days before, the VP education of my club had texted me about the change in the upcoming meeting. She said, “Ashraya you have a good news and a bad news at the same time. We are going to have a Joint Meeting with Baneshwor Toastmaster and other two featured speakers are going to be from another club.” My heart sank; more strangers, more fear. How can I speak in front of so many people? What will other people think about me? Will they judge me? What if the words do not come out of my mouth?

The night before my icebreaker speech, I had this thought – ‘Why some ideas survive and others die. Why someone’s saying remains in our hearts forever. The words you speak can have a great impact on someone’s life. How powerful your words can be.’ With this thought, I was motivated and I could, fortunately, sleep without any apprehension attack.

The theme of the meeting was “A look at Love” as it was the first month of the February. I stood up when called upon and took the center stage. All eyes and ears were focused on me. I started with a rhyme – 

“Today my speech is an icebreaker,

But deep inside, my gut is telling me it will be a heartbreaker.

Half of the faces in this meeting hall are familiar, 

The other half unfamiliar. 

It is a hurdle, 

It is a struggle.

Even our theme is about love, so love is in the air

But for me, I could only feel the fear…

Fellow Toastmasters and Distinguished Guest, Helen Keller once said “The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings.”

My speech was about how being an introvert as a child changed my personality, how I took a chance at public speaking and how the struggle to speak has become a greatest blessing for me personally and professionally. Toastmasters has given me a platform to challenge myself, and the sweetest reward I got that evening was the better speaker award in the Featured Speech category. More than winning a certificate, I had won myself.

Ashraya B. Mathema, Yeti Toastmasters

Published in Inkspire Issue 3. Click here for the full newsletter.

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