Old fears

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I was painfully shy as a child. I mean, I was a chatterbox at home of course, but put me in a classroom or a group of peers and you'd never hear a peep. This personality trait was not at all helpful when it came to those dreaded book report verbal presentations or speech assignments over the years. I remember a specific day in 7th grade Reading class while I was at the height of this shyness I was called up to give my verbal book report on the book Black Beauty. I had a shoebox diorama complete with plastic horse figurines as support and I had loved the book, knowing it forwards and backwards. I had notecards. I had a plan. I was prepared. Until I walked to the front of that classroom and saw all those familiar (judgy) eyes peering up at me, that is. In that single moment, I couldn't even tell you what book I had read. I stood up there with a complete loss for words. Mr. J tried to prompt me to no avail. I was frozen.

I couldn't tell you what I did end up getting out that day (or if I even passed the assignment), but it has apparently scarred me for life. I can still feel the pounding of my heart and the taste of sweat on my upper lip when I think about it. All those expectant eyes on me, staring straight into my soul!

As I've grown and been out in "the real world", I have become much more social. I think it helped that I married one of the most outgoing people I've met, and had a couple of customer service positions dealing with the public. I can talk to pretty much anyone, no problem. I'm actually pretty proud of how open I am with people now.

But...

This morning, I was reminded that I was suppose to attend this weeks "Coffee Connection" meeting at the retirement home that I run the print shop for as a special guest. This reminder came only 15 minutes before the meeting started, and I quickly jotted down a few samples of products we produce for the residents and headed to the meeting, pretty confident all the way. I arrived at the room expecting a small group of maybe a dozen residents around a table having a discussion and coffee. Boy, was I wrong. There were at least 50 residents and employees there, many of which I recognized from helping them in the print shop, but a bunch of new faces as well. I glanced around the room and about fell over when I saw the podium, complete with microphone. I hadn't realized I was doing an actual presentation, assuming it would be just a discussion. I began to frantically scribble notes on things I could talk about the print shop as that old familiar pounding of my heart began drumming away. I am positive I could have handled it much better had I had time to prepare rather than "winging it", but not really. I was back in the front of that classroom at 13 years old, slack jawed and trembling. Thankfully it didn't last long and I just started rambling about how we got started and what we offer, answered some q & a and scurried back to my safe office.

I survived. Just barely.

Apparently as deep as we bury them, those old fears never really leave with age. 



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