I was speaking with someone recently, and was surprised that they did not believe that I have stage fright. I have had anxiety and social stress all of my life, but I have learned to camouflage, deflect, and power my way through it. So I am starting a new section on this blog, with personal stories of the times I have kicked my way through fear to get the job done. Surviving Anxiety has been a theme of my life, and I hope to inspire others to begin facing their own fears.
My school had a craft show when I was in grade five. At the time, I had been making strange little yarn dolls made from looped wool. They were quaint, easily customizable, and I thought they were darling. I signed up for the craft fair, although I had never been to one before. I worked hard for the next while, assembling a little collection of my nicest dolls. I was really nervous – I had no idea what to expect, and was too shy to ask many questions. But I have always enjoyed creating things, and my family told me they liked my crafts.
Suddenly the morning of the event, I was terrified. How could I show strangers what I made? Although I wanted to back out, I thought quitting would be embarrassing. I forced myself to just get it over with. This is one of my earliest memories of surviving anxiety and pushing myself to get through the day no matter what.
I was driven to the fair, and told that my section of table had my name on it. I found it, and placed several of my dolls across the area. I had no concept of displays, I was a little kid. Then I looked around.
Every other exhibitor had a table cloth, a backdrop, and most had signage describing their crafts. They obviously had a lot of help from their parents. Suddenly I thought my dolls looked completely stupid compared to the rest of the exhibits. I was mortified. (I felt like Ralph Wiggum, who was centred out at the school contest for being one of only two children who obviously didn’t have any help from their parents.)
Later that night, as I cried while telling my dad I was the worst one there, he assured me that I wasn’t, but that wasn’t the point at all. The only thing that mattered was that I tried. That I did something new. That I had the guts to show people the things I had made.
I learned a lot through this ordeal, like the only person I can ever trust is myself. I learned that doing something and trying really is better than doing nothing. I learned that being embarrassed won’t actually kill me. After a while, I did feel a tiny bit of pride for doing something even though I was scared.
Fear is horrid, but the amazing high you get from barrelling through it is almost always worth it.
I would hugely appreciate your comments and feedback – it’s hard to write when you don’t know if anyone is reading and enjoying the posts. I hope that this blog is beneficial to you, and inspires you to work on getting over your own hurdles.