Bloody hell it’s that time of year again.
Whilst those around me are on a hourly count down until the end of term, I am getting visibly freaked out at the thought of the last day. I desperately want to look forward to my holiday but there’s something in the way that I have to do first. And the thought of it is temporarily ruining my life: the farewell speeches I will be expected to deliver to departing members of my department.
Damn them for leaving. The first thing I think of when a colleague gets a job elsewhere is ‘Shit, now I have to do a leaving speech!’ I don’t say this out loud, obviously, but I hate them for it all the same. Bastards.
Inconsiderate, is what it is.
The whole thing is a massive cringe fest. I get the added inconvenience of having to not look forward to it for months on end. In the past I’ve managed to scale down my verbal involvement by making videos or letting someone else share the duty but I know I have to do it, it’s my responsibility.
I have many fears about the whole thing. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. I always sound insincere. I don’t mean to and it’s particularly hard with people I haven’t worked with for that long. Emotion on demand is not my thing – I am unconvincing, no matter what I say.
2. I hate public speaking, which I know is ridiculous as I am a teacher. Adults are a tough crowd and despite the fact that many people aren’t polished public speakers we all love to judge those who get up and have a go. Me included. Hypocrite that I am.
3. Once I am up in front of everyone, I feel like I have gone red but I don’t actually go red, my head feels heavy like all the blood in my body has shot to my face. I worry that I might fall over.
4. My voice sounds really stupid too, for the first ten seconds, then it kind of evens out.
5. And what to do with my hands? Yeah a bit of gesticulation is ok but not both hands, I don’t want to be flapping around like a bird.
6. Notes or no notes? I once witnessed the woman I took to be the most confident person in the world read out a speech, word for word. This destroyed my illusion of great public speakers – I always thought she used notes or had something scribbled on her hand. Also if I hold a piece of paper you can see it shaking.
7. Not doing the person leaving justice. My added problem this year. One of the people leaving is one of my favourite people of all time. How can I possibly pay her the tribute she deserves as such a crap public speaker?
8. The danger of crying. This is a serious worry this year. I haven’t really tested out my feelings about my fave person leaving and there is a possibility I could end up a gasping, voice cracking, sniveling wreck. Hopefully I will be too terrified to cry. Fingers crossed. I can’t stand it when people cry in public.
So how will I get through it? I won’t. I will think about it hourly, half hourly, every minute until I have to do it; then it will be over in a flash and I will be sitting down again, with my blood returning to normal circulation – already dreading the thought of next year’s leaving speeches.