I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown up, I’ve got friends to support me, and I’ve been leading Rainbows, Guides, and a Primary Science Club for four years. My confidence has shot like a rocket. I answer questions in class, I’m more confident in asking for help with work, I take Rainbow promise ceremonies, and I am a maths mentor for a girl who is two years younger than me. This year, my flute teacher even managed to get me to introduce my solo in the flute concert, and get to the end without shaking too much. I’ve given numerous presentations about my Guiding adventure to Denmark, and in a few weeks, I’ll be giving one to the Rotary about my leadership roles. I seriously am a changed person, and I’m so proud of that.
There are however a few situations that still make me panic. I’ve always struggled to cope with the pressure of a one to one situation. I didn’t speak to my new flute teacher for the first year, and it’s only in the past eight months or so that I’ve been confident talking to my best friend about problems and advice in person. Even now, there is the odd time in my flute lesson that I will know the answer, but I just can’t move my mouth to form the words to say it. It’s not something that I choose. I simply freeze, and it doesn’t matter how hard I try, the words just won’t come out. Starting my leadership qualification with Rainbows has been mildly terrifying. Sitting down with an adult and discussing my opinion just isn’t something that I cope very well with. I can feel the pressure mounting and building, it all sits on my shoulders, and sometimes it physically hurts. I worry about silly things – anything that could mean failure or making a fool of myself in front of people that I’m not close to, and the panic begins to wrap around me and it can’t be controlled.
I have theories on why I get such bad ‘stage fright’. I think it probably goes back to being a kid. I had a few embarrassing stage related incidents, but more importantly, I hate being wrong. I’ve always been a perfectionist, with high standards. My parents put exceptional amounts of pressure on me, and all I want to do is ensure that I don’t let anyone down. Being one to one means that I have no choice but to give my opinion or ideas, and although it never really occurred to me, perhaps I have a fear of being wrong. I sure as hell had a fear of failure. My parents were always proud of me when I achieved something, but because my brother was always a bit of a pain, I never felt that I got the attention otherwise.
So when the idea was suggested to me of talking to a teacher about my worries to do with my best friend, I thought they were insane. Just thinking about it makes me flush. My breathing rate increases, and I feel the onset of panic. At the same time that I know talking to someone would do wonders for me, it’s a horrifying idea. Sharing my concerns would allow me to relieve some tension, to let go. I don’t even have to say her name. But I’m afraid. And since I met my best friend, I’ve never had to cope with my fears alone. This time however, I do, and I’m not entirely convinced how I should handle that.
I might cry. I’m going to appear weak and helpless, and look completely stupid in front of my favourite teacher. To admit that you can’t cope is a terrifying idea, and when it’s because you’re worried about someone else, it’s even worse. I know that I need to have that conversation, but I don’t think that I’m going to be able to find the courage to do it. I’m not strong enough.
Here’s to hoping that deep inside me they’ll be a little spark that lets me find my voice.
Living. Laughing. Loving.