I was asked to give a talk about the swifts in Vejer by the Sociedad Gaditana de Historia Natural (SGHN). I don´t really talk in public. Even in those situations of a small group of 5 people when you´re asked to introduce yourself I feel really anxious. So generally I would never accept an invitation to speak in public. But speak in public I did. And in Spanish.

Sometimes what you have to say, what you have to share, is bigger than yourself, bigger than your own feelings of discomfort. This is a subject that is important to me and I had to get over myself. This turned out to be an interesting learning experience and I reflected a lot on my feelings of anxiety. Sometimes anxiety serves a purpose. I learned this from a therapist I once went to and it helped it to contextualise my anxiety.

Poster for a Women in science event for the Natural History Society in Spain.

When I was first faced with the destruction of the swift colony I felt anxious but at the same time I found peace in my resolve. I channelled my anxiety into action. I know that this isn´t always possible but I recount how this was possible for me because it is interesting to record it for myself. 

Firstly, I understood that this feeling of anxiety when faced with the destruction of the natural world is NORMAL. In fact I think it would be abnormal to not feel in response to the destruction of another species. The clarity which came with this realisation was helpful. Secondly, I decided to use the energy of my anxiety to ACT – to create, to move things, to communicate.

I recounted all of this, along with the story of what happened with the swift colony in Vejer to a crowd of people. I recounted how it was to feel alone and to find a network of support. I recounted how it feels to accept your own limits, to do what you can. I spoke out loud my gratitude to all those who have helped and guided me. It felt good.