Thursday, October 23, 2014

FACE YOUR FEARS

I did possibly the most terrifying thing of all time today:

I made a morning announcement over the PA system at school.

Yes. It was really, truly scary. I thought getting married in front of 200 people was the scariest thing ever, but no, it was not. I had my best friend up there with me, who also had to walk and talk and pose in front of all those people. Also, those 200 people happened to be people who love us and care about us and don't judge us for being awkward weirdos.

A morning announcement, on the other hand, is all me. Alone. Talking to hundreds of people who are not my friends. A majority of them are kids who look for any reason to make fun of you, even if you are a nice, smiley "bubbly cheerleader" (it kills me inside when they call me that...). My voice booming all over the entire school, so literally everyone can hear me, whether they are in class or in the office or sitting on the toilet.

I forgot all about it, until I walked in this morning and saw the date on my computer. Today is the start of Red Ribbon Week, just so you know. It's a week to spread drug prevention and awareness, which is obviously my job. So, big week for me. I had planned to make an announcement today about it. I wrote it out and everything so I wouldn't freeze up and not know what to say.

My hands were shaking so bad, and I thought I was going to throw up while I was waiting for the Pledge of Allegiance to be done. But then I got the mic, and I read the paper, and I survived. People in the office started clapping when I was done. I swore they were being sarcastic because I did a horrible job. I couldn't even remember reading the paper afterwards. I completely blacked out. I couldn't remember if I had even read the whole thing or stopped in the middle. I walked so fast back to my office and shut the door for 10 minutes to calm myself down and convince myself it was okay to show my face around school.

Guess what? No one even looked at me funny the rest of the day. One of my teacher friends said she heard my announcement, and I told her I had been insanely nervous to talk this morning. She was shocked. She said I spoke clearly, at an even pace, and didn't sound shaky at all. That's why people were clapping. Because everyone messes up when they make announcements, and I actually didn't mess up at all.

No one can ever tell when I'm freaking out on the inside. I have had lots of practice with looking calm and composed.

Today made me realize that I have faced a lot of fears lately, and I have A LOT of fears. Like way more than the average person. Let's see, what else have I done recently...

1. I posted a picture of myself without makeup on Facebook to participate in the No Makeup Challenge. I'll post it again for all the interwebz to see:

There. I've spent way too much of my life analyzing my appearance and worrying about what other people think of how I look. Time to be done with that.

2. I called to make a hair salon appointment. My mom did this for me up until... well, now.

3. I got a manicure for my wedding. People touching my hands? All those horror stories you hear about infections? Scary.

4. I actually had a wedding. We already talked about how anxiety-provoking that was.

5. I flew on a plane about 203584240582 times in the past year.

6. I traveled internationally without my family. And got sick in a foreign country. I didn't mean to conquer that fear, but I kinda had no choice, so oh well.

7. I DROVE to the airport to pick up and drop off visitors. Okay, it was the little Palm Beach airport, not the crazy Philly airport, but still.

8. I gave a presentation at my work staff meeting.

9. I taught a classroom full of kids... with an assistant principal observing.

10. I went to the dentist alone without chill pills.

11. I sang karaoke at a bar while I was still somewhat sober. Hah.

12. I went snorkeling.

13. I went to the movies a couple times, and once, I didn't even sit in the aisle seat.

14. I ate at a restaurant and didn't sit facing the wall.

15. I started sleeping in the dark. With a mirror in my room. AHHHHHH

16. I ate junk food and drank alcohol without running that morning, or that night, or the next day, or even the next whole week. I let myself enjoy food and drinks ON A REGULAR BASIS without feeling guilty. That's a big deal for me.

17. I wrote this post. It is really scary to be honest about this kind of struggle with pretty much everyone I know, but I do it in the hopes that it will help someone else. And also, I like getting things off my chest. It helps not to have to bear the burden alone.

You should try conquering your fears. If you struggle with anxiety,  try gradually exposing yourself to the things that make you anxious. Make a hierarchy list, ordering experiences from least to most anxiety provoking. Start off small, doing things at the bottom of the list. Baby steps. Eventually, you will work your way to the top. I still haven't done the number one thing on my list, but one day, when I get back to the Jerz, I will.

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