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Don’t Panic: The Amazing Aftermath of Tackling Your Fears

So here I am in my 50s, and I’ve never gotten over my fear of public speaking. Couple that with the fact that, despite my career choice, I’ve never been a spotlight seeker and you’ll begin to see why the thought of this past week has been a source of terror for me for the last few months.

As some of you probably know, I was honored by CASA of Los Angeles this week at their annual gala. It was a fantastic event – thanks to many of you for your support of me and your contributions to this incredible organization – but the road to the gala was not an easy one for me, and I thought I’d share a little of the journey with you.

Thanks to Andrya, Bessie & Tamra for coming out to support me and CASA!

About six months ago, I was invited to lunch by one of the CASA board members. The invitation was a surprise, but an even bigger surprise came when he told me they’d selected me to receive their Robert Morrison Community Service Award, which would be presented at a gala in May.

I, like many of you who do anything as a volunteer, just do the job the best I can and then go about my life. As honored as I was to be selected, I felt completely unworthy of being singled out in this way. Yes, I am an actress, and you’d think I would like to bask in this type of attention, but that’s just not me. In fact, for some reason, having the attention pointed at me embarrasses me.

Mary Beth Evans receives the Robert Morrison Community Services Award from CASA Los AngelesPlus, I am terrified of public speaking and I knew this award would require some kind of speech. Again, I realize this is a crazy contradiction to what people commonly think actresses are all about, but for me acting was never about the spotlight, but rather about being able to work in the field I love (not to mention that, besides being a waitress, I have no other job experience … although I always bag my own groceries, just in case).

Obviously I feel passionately about CASA, but I knew receiving an award at an event like this would warrant some kind of acceptance speech. That completely freaked me out! A speech before 800 people? Holy moly, yikes! I can say lines as a character all day, but public speaking is one of my biggest fears. Maybe I’ll misread my speech or stumble over my words. My goodness, what if I faint? And write a speech?!?

That evening, my husband, who is always the voice of reason, reminded me that while this is a nice honor, it really is something that is bigger than me. And that I should use the opportunity to spread the word about CASA and all the great work it does for the children in foster care. The sense of panic didn’t leave me, but the next day I called to say I would be delighted and honored to except the award and speak at the gala.

Ugh, now what? For the next six months, whenever Mandy (who so graciously agreed to help organize my part for the gala) would bring it up, I’d say “Oh geez don’t talk about it … it makes me so nervous.” I was nervous when they announced it, nervous to send out invites to my friends and felt panic anytime the subject of writing the speech came up.

As the event got closer and friends would tell me they were coming, my heart would start pounding at the thought. I just tried to push it out of my mind. Finally, with a few weeks to go, I took the big step and invited my children (who I rarely take to events because the attention on me is embarrassing … like I always say they think I work at a bank).

The day of the event came, and man was I nervous! But I kept telling myself I needed to be MATURE about this and reminding myself that it wasn’t about me! Well, the craziest thing happened – my knees did not buckle, I did not slur my words, and the message was really good and well received. 

On the red carpet with my husband, my son Matt and my daughter Katie.

As I took my seat after my speech, I was so happy. Happy to be able to enjoy the rest of the evening, but mostly happy that my husband and two of my children where there to enjoy it with me. They were SO proud of me and I realized how great that was … that it was cool for them to be proud of me. I set an example for them, not only in community service, but also in tackling one’s fears! When we got home they said it again, and the next day they sent me notes of how proud they were. For me, that was the biggest award!

So here’s to tackling new things and concurring our fears … and to finding out along the way that, low and behold, not only will you survive, but also you’ll grow as a human being. Let’s all vow to not let fear stop us … and to keep challenging ourselves. Because take it from me, it sure does feel great!

 

 

Here’s a little video from the evening …

 

25 Comments

  1. Anita Smith

    Congrats on your award, Mary Beth. It couldn’t have gone to a nicer person and what a wonderful speech too. I feel for you on your fear of speaking. It’s really difficult to do something like that when you’re wracked with fear. On the flip side, once you force yourself to do something you fear it feels great knowing that you faced your fear and had a good time in the process. I suffer from claustrophobia and I really hate that about myself. It bothers me most in hot humid weather. In fact, I almost didn’t make it to meet you last August in Nashville because I had an anxiety attack while walking through downtown Nashville in the hot sticky weather. If it hadn’t been for my daughter, Brittany (we had you spelling Brittany about 90 different ways, lol) I probably would have turned around and went back to the car. But, I pushed on because I knew she wanted to attend the Days event really bad. We ended up having a great time and made lots of fun memories. The best being we had the privilege of meeting all you nice Days people.

  2. Stacey AKA BraveWidowMama

    Congratulations Mary Beth! It was certainly well-deserved since you have done so much to promote CASA.

  3. Georgia L

    Congratulations Mary Beth for your wonderful work with CASA, for your bravery in facing and overcoming your fears and for your unwavering belief of seeing the good in people.

    Truely inspirational xxx

  4. Joanne Conte

    Mary Beth,

    What an amazing organization, and what an amazing human being! May God bless you and the work you do as a CASA advocate.

    Joanne

  5. Congratulations MaryBeth. You are truly an 😇

  6. Lorena Valenzuela

    Mary Beth you trully are beautiful person from the inside out. Many congrats and praise on receiving such an honour towards a cause/ campaign ~ being a CASA, that is so obviously very near and dear to your heart and you feel passionate about. Great on you for shedding/ shining a light on such a important, sensitive and worthwhile subject. As the saying and song goes: “children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside…” and I believe through your involvement and you playing a part in CASA among SO many other CASA volunteers you are achieving or on the road to achieving just this. Also congratulate, commend you for conquering your fear of public speaking: rising to the occassion and coming out at the end of it all the better and stronger for it. Your speech was so eloquently delivered, couldn’t have come across anymore genuine, sincere and heart-felt. If only all of us could have a Mary Beth within us, positive/ strong influence around us just imagine the possibilities- how better, enriching life would be (?!??) 😌💕👏👌👏👌 So proud to call myself a MBE fan/follower. Keep up being the bright and hopeful example you are. Keep up the great work! xoxo

    Lorena Valenzuela,

    yours, Stephen and #Stayla AUSSIE fan 4 Eva ❤❤❤

  7. Hi Mary Beth,
    Wow what a great speech it touched me
    incredibly..
    You have something in the way you talk about the cause that inspires and make me think to do something similar.
    Also loved the things Mandy told about you…
    You are a role model for a lot of people I think your attitude in life is very inspiring.
    Thank you for sharing the speech..
    Xoxo
    Elise

  8. Christie L

    Super job on the speech, MB. You did an amazing job drawing attention to the needs of CASA. I totally understand not wanting to be in the spotlight, which is funny given my job as well.
    Thanks for being brave and using your celebrity status to not only work with, but also promote, such a worthy cause.

  9. Barbara levy

    Wow! I cried when I heard your speech. You are a great advocate for CASA. I also loved the story of overcoming your fear. You did a great job!

    Mandy, loved your speech too! Thanks for sharing your story of being mentored by MB. You certainly are a southern girl

    Barb

  10. Congratulations on this well deserved honor and congratulations for conquering your fear! : ) I know the latter as I have been trying to do this myself and have succeeded doing it a few times. You are right, it feels GREAT to conquer your fear! And showing our children that we have to go out there and try and conquer feels even better.

    Keep shining your light as you always have!

  11. I was very touched by your speech Mary Beth, and did some searching for where the nearest CASA was for me; while I was expecting it to be about 2 to 3 hours away, I was surprised to find one about 30 mins away in an area that I am really happy to see such a great organization in! While I don’t have the time as a college student to dedicate at the moment, helping people is something I love to do, and this is definitely something I would be interested in looking into volunteering for in the future! Thank you for your continued inspiration, and congratulations on your well-deserved award!

  12. Thanks Mary Beth and Mandy for such a wonderful evening. You were so kind and sweet as usual. Mary Beth your speech was so inspiring, and i never thought you seemed nervous. I can certainly relate to the fear of speaking before people. I spent most of my life in fear of that, but after 79 plus years, I have gotten much better. Thanks again for a wonderful evening and thanks to Casa for your recognition.

  13. Susan Nolen "Suzzy1969"

    Congrats Mary Beth!….you gave a beautiful speech!….Thanks for always being an inspiration to me!

  14. Terri Martin-Cincinnati

    Congratulations! Well done. Thank you for sharing your fear that you had leading up to this. I always assume not much gets to you since you always seem to do everything so smoothly. I have some anxiety about certain things and situations, and anytime I push myself through it instead of turning around, I too feel such a sense of accomplishment. You and Mandy could teach public speaking. You both handled that so beautifully. You know…..just as a back up plan! Ha!

  15. Michelle Gray

    Congratulations on your award, so deserved, people that foster children are amazing, so selfless to open your heart and home to disadvantaged children. I promise to work on overcoming my fears, (i have a few), your speech was wonderful, I can see how your family are so proud of you.

  16. Mary Beth, congratulations. I really admire this work that you do, and I agree that your speech was very heartfelt and sincere. CASA is doing important work and you conveyed that completely. So Bravo! You deserve a little attention. Wise words from your husband, too!

  17. Congratulation on your award, and thank you for being a part of CASA.

    As I was reading this, this morning I hope that my foster children’s Guardian at Leitem takes into account their needs and wishes as they are in court today. These three little ones have been hurt so much, my only wish for them is to be in a permanent safe stable home.

    When my husband and I are no longer foster parents I hope to volunteer for CASA in my state, these children need a voice, and need to be heard, in order to heal.

  18. Nancy McCarthy

    Congratulations, MB! So well deserved, and I just have to say, no one would ever know that you were nervous. You hide it well! And like you’ve said before, no one will find you sitting on your couch. Get up, get out & get going! I have found that the more you can power through your fears & do things you never thought you’d do, the more rewarding life is. Thank you for sharing & congratulations again! ❤️

  19. nancy dillingham

    Congrats on your award and on making other people aware of CASA. I applaud your work and your involvement in such a worthy organization.

  20. Jan Dillon

    Mary Beth you are an inspiration. I wish we had something like CASA here in Australia as it is badly needed.

  21. Mary Beth, you are a worthy recipient of this honour and your elequent speech shows why. Your simple mantra of one person helping one person is so true.

    You have demonstrated in the nicest possible way, that while not many of us could win an Emmy, we could all contribute to an organisation such as CASA, if we wanted to.

    Your advocacy of this organisation reaches others who can help too.
    I have to say-I think my all time favourite blog was the Casa one you did with those 2 or 3 volunteers. I learnt about CASA through you and I bet others did as well.

    Also a shout out to Mandy-great speech my friend!

    Congratulations Mary Beth. I am very proud to be a fan of such a fine person.

  22. Mary Beth, we loved seeing you honored by Casa of LA… being recognized for all your hard work & support. Every child deserves a loving home.

    Congratulations!!! We’re so proud of you!

    Thank you for sharing your special night with us💗

  23. Susan Nolen (Suzzy1969)

    Mary Beth….you’re beautiful…and such an inspiration to me and of course all your fans!….I always look forward to your most positive post!…you are so awesome!…. I adore you!

  24. Traci Whiting

    You are an inspiration to so many MB. Thank you for being who you are and sharing your love and kindness with everyone including me! ❤️

  25. We are all so proud of you! Thank you for continuing to be such an example to us all; in the way we lead, the way we live and the way we conquer! You are such an inspiration and positive influence on so many. I look forward to what is to come next! Congratulations again on this great honor!

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