Yesterday, I had the privilege of interviewing an idol for my podcast. I’ve been following the running, blogging, and podcasting career of Tina Muir for several years. She not only is a blazing fast 2:36 marathoner, but she has maintained a very honest, relatable blog for years and is now an accomplished entrepreneur with her own business, focusing on the mental side of running. I was nervous, understandably so, as it’s intimidating to talk to someone whom you’ve admired nearly to the point if being awe struck and tongue tied. However, true to her character (and one of the principle reasons I so adore her), Tina’s sweetness and graciousness radiated through the phone and put most of my trepidation and anxiety to rest. I liken her warm, bubbly, and gregarious personality to a hug from your loved one after a difficult time apart. A few questions in, she had me genuinely smiling and laughing at her responses, and relaxing into a more natural conversation, much like imagine between two friends (I frankly don’t have enough real-time conversations with friends to have an informed gauge). As we rolled along in our conversation, I found myself needing to edit myself and pull back the reins on all the follow-up questions that started filling my brain and the ideas of directions I’d like to take the conversation. We had a pre-agreed upon hard stop time though, as she is a busy entrepreneur with scheduled obligations after our chat, so I was very conscientious to respect her time and stick to a focused list of a handful of questions.
I must admit that I felt quite proud of myself for having the courage to reach out to Tina and request an interview and then follow through and actually conduct it with as much confidence as I did, even if it was feigned at first, it grew authentically as we progressed in our conversation. Just a few weeks ago, I don’t think I would have had the gumption to put myself so far out of my comfort zone, especially because verbal conversations are generally one of my least favorite situations. This may be gradually changing, the hard edges on the loathing box I’ve put them in softening. As I accrue more hours of practice, my confidence has started to grow. It would be too much of a stretch to say I like it now, but as my skills improve, I feel more adept and closer to “normal” enough so that I’m not so self-conscious and uneasy about my confusion and lagging proficiency. It’s less likely that I hate something (and take extreme measures to avoid it) if I’m adequately skilled and experienced with it.
That pattern has remained in the forefront of my mind as an objective and positive outcome of maintaining regularity with my podcasting project; I’ve never opted to engage in a job or leisure pursuit that specifically necessitates approaching others for in-depth conversations. This past year has demonstrated to the point of solidifying the idea that through activities that push us beyond of our comfort zones, we achieve the most personal growth. I’m in dire need of self-improvement in a variety of life areas, so it serves to reason I better leap (and leap again!) out of my comfort zone to try and minimize the severity and breadth of my deficiencies. Coming down hard on myself however, seems as natural for me as breathing, so while this is certainly an accurate self-assessment, I also need to recognize my improvement and honor the triumphant feeling I experienced after hanging up from my call with Tina. I’ve gotten better about continuing the conversation with informal chitchat after the recording of the structured interview podcast discussion has stopped. Small talk and casual conversation is actually my least favorite and most stressful part of any social interaction, so this is by far the aspect of the podcast calls I try to minimize, though, I realize it’s part of “normal” and expected human interaction. That said, I’ve found that I enjoy getting to know my guests during the interview recording and then genuinely want to hold up my end of friendly dialogue before we officially end the call. When I consider my “performance” on this part to be subpar, I feel sad and inadequate when I hang up, and disappointed that I didn’t successfully convey how much I wanted to keep listening and conversing, then and in the future. At least I’m trying, slowly but surely improving, and gaining much-needed whispers of confidence that will hopefully someday drown out the self-doubt, criticism, and feelings of inadequacy.