When I was a child, I HATED Sunday nights. My stomach churned over the week ahead. No, I wasn’t bullied at school; I was just dreadfully afraid of people. I’d like to say I got over this, but I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing you get over. You’re either born an extrovert who feels energized by the presence of others, or you’re not.
When I started writing, I thought – this is the career for me! I’m going to work in isolation, with only my thoughts! Oh happy day!
Then came the invitations to make presentations at schools, read my work on the radio, present at booksellers conventions, participate in festival readings… What the heck was I thinking, becoming an author??
I’m uncomfortable in public. I hate dressing up (i.e. not wearing pajamas). I am exhausted after small talk — I absorb everyone’s emotions, and feel ineffective if I can’t engage with everyone I meet in a meaningful way. In short, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make a good impression, because I always feel as if I’m making a bad one if I’m the quiet, mousey girl I really am inside.
But, I believe in a little adversity in order to grow. Uncomfortable situations can force us to re-define who we are, and step out of the pre-conceived notions we have about ourselves.
Recently I was invited to take part as a presenter at the Labrador Creative Arts Festival. It’s a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the education of children who have less access to working artists than Children in big cities. I’m honoured to be able to participate. Though it’s two months away, my stomach is already churning and my thoughts already preoccupied. Will I be able to be social for an entire week, with hardly any time to decompress on my own?
The anxiety isn’t necessarily a negative feeling, but it isn’t the sort of excited feeling I imagine a lot of extroverts get when they are given the opportunity to speak in public. But, after each event like this, I do feel as though I’ve challenged myself by taking another step toward being comfortable in public. It may never happen fully, but life is a process — I’d rather quake at the front of a classroom, then never challenge myself at all.