Monday, 31 January 2011

Stage fright

I have a very long history with this certain characteristic called stage fright. I think it comes from the fact that I've never really considered me important enough for people to give me their full attention. If I dig deeper it also comes from the fact that I always expect mean words from my audience. Something about how I look or how I present my subject. Sometimes I do it too fast (usually), sometimes I do it too quiet and people are always nice enough to tell me. But those comments that I speak too fast or too quiet makes their way into my mind and messes with it. Yes, I know that I speak fast when I have everyone's attention. That's the reason I speak fast; to friggin' get it over with, so that I won't have everybody's attention, cause I don't want it. I never wanted it.

But that's not completely true. I've had dreams like any other child. Dreams of being famous, making the headlines, being a popular actress or singer or model or just someone for other teenagers to look up to. A rebel maybe. Those dreams might also have something to do with my extremely common name or my (in northern Europe) extremely common looks and colours. Because everytime I played alone as a child I was always the centre of attention and I was always famous or special in some way. And in my games I loved the attention.

But for real I can't stand it. A room full of people watching me gives me the creeps. Why are they all watching me?! Why am I so important?! That's the one part I don't like about celebrating my birthday. It's embarrassing and uncomfortable having the full attention of my family and extended family at my birthday celebrations. But it scares me to stand up in front of people I don't know very well or whom I don't completely trust; i.e. a school class. I shiver, I wanna rush out crying, my voice trembles if I force it to speak in an understandable manner and I hardly ever remember my presentations. Even if I learn all the text by heart the day before and can do a perfect presentation in front of my mirror, it never works out when it has to. I've never been as happy as in 12th grade when I got an A on an oral presentation. That's when I truly felt I had accomplished something special in school.

This is the speech (Swedish)

She's an overnight sensation
in the mirror on her wall
She gets a standing ovation
at every shower curtain call
And she becomes a pop star 
in the safety of her car
And then she falls to pieces
at the karaoke bar
She's perfect
until the lights go on
And then it all goes wrong
cause now she's not so perfect

Except for the obvious hardships of having this phobia while in school, I never met anyone who tried to help me. All my teachers' general opinion was that 'to get rid of a fear, one has to face it' - thus, more oral presentatios. It most certainly didn't help. My problem was discovered in second grade and starting my second year at university I could actually do an oral presentation without having my voice tremble and still in an understandable manner. That's 11 years! Thanks for the support. The fact that I was already the bullied one in second grade didn't help improve my presentations or my self-confidence.

Today, still, I feel the urge to run and hide everytime someone says I have to introduce myself to a large crowd or make an oral presentation or simply being at a place at a time when it's all about me. Like meeting the boyfriend's parents or some of his friends or some new people. At these occasions I'm usually on the edge of my seat the first 5 to 10 times until I can relax around new people and start making conversation and not just listening to it and smile politely.

To conclude all this I have another phobia to add to the other two already known to the public. I'm now seriously scared of clowns, pigeons/gulls and people.

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