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everyday stage fright

When I was in 9th grade I decided I wanted to try out for the school musical.
I was severely shy back then, but I felt this desperate need to be part of that world where attention and praise were directed center stage.  I had my friend, Noelle, play the piano for me.  I had chosen to sing the theme song from The Land Before Time. The day came for my audition. I had never been so nervous in all my life.  I walked up onto the auditorium stage.  A spotlight was shining right into my eyes.  I couldn’t even see the panel of teachers that were there to listen, which was probably good.  I had practiced a hundred times in front of my mirror at home.  I should be ready, I kept telling myself, but no matter how hard I tried I could not push down the horrific anxiety that was building up inside of me.  I was a having a physical reaction to it…I was shaking, sweating, and when I began singing the song I’m sure they could barely hear me.  Once my verse and chorus were over, I had never been so relieved to get out of that room in my life.  My mind sensed distress and when presented with fight or flight, I easily chose flight.

I feel like with time and experience I have been able to overcome my shyness and I enjoy socializing. However, I still consider myself to be an introvert, because I gather my energy from being alone.  That same anxiety I felt the day of that audition I have felt on more than a few occasions in my life:

  • My middle school district spelling bee, where I choked under the pressure and misspelled the word tobacco.
  • The first few weeks as a brand new missionary in Spain I was deathly afraid to speak Spanish for fear of saying things incorrectly.
  • Going on my first date ever at age 24…major anxiety
  • and the list could go on and on, haha.

When I think about each of these events they all have a few things in common. I was under prepared and I felt I had no control over the outcome.

Over the past 3 years, I have felt that anxiety more frequently than I would like .  Now it can be the simplest of everyday errands that causes me to break out into a cold sweat.  Going to doctor appointments, the post office, small shops where strollers don’t fit, restaurants, and even mundane tasks like grocery shopping or going to the park could send me into a panic.  My kids can be so unpredictable and because they don’t understand language it is practically impossible to control them in public situations.  I mean, to all my real friends out there in cyber space, when is the last time you actually saw me in person?  I pretty much became a hermit. My one saving grace has been that my sister moved down to go to college and I trust her well enough to watch them so that Adam and I can get out of the house now and then. Thanks Lindsay!

-It is pretty shocking to your confidence when you don’t trust your children in public.  However, things are slowly getting better.  Since we have changed their diets, cut-out screen time, and started some therapies there is a different expectation around our house. We expect them to change and succeed and now we see miracles taking place everyday…

-I no longer have to put the 3-foot, 50lb Max in the shopping cart at the grocery story.  He is able to walk beside the cart and stay near me, even in clothing stores, which he dislikes immensely.

-Dempsey is responding to her name more regularly.  She know when I say no that I mean no.  She may not like it and even scream and cry, but at least she stops what she is doing.

-My sister is moving out(ahhh), but I finally feel confident enough to call in a high school girl and teach her how to help me out when I need it.

-Max is able to make it through all of his church meetings with little to no incident…we are still working with Dempsey on Sacrament meeting, but she has come a LONG way a she is able to stay in nursery for the full two hours now without confrontations with the other toddlers(baby fights, ha!)

-When we tell them it is time to go to bed they file up the stairs like little ducklings and don’t even throw a fit…we are amazed every time.

-When they are in the stroller now they are content to just observe and ride. For instance, I took them to Bath & Body works the other day and parked inside the store next to hundreds of colorful bottles sure that they would want to get out and touch everything or throw a fit trying, but no, they just sat there for a good 10 MIN while I casually browsed the small shop for teacher appreciation gifts and didn’t make a peep…seriously, you have no idea just how incredible that is to me.

I am more prepared to be their parent. I am slightly less concerned about what other people think about their behavior. We still have a lot to work on before we test their resolve to wait in lines at Disneyland, but just to have a little more peace in my life is priceless.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, I made it into the chorus of the musical, but decided to drop out because well, I wanted to be a star after all…and now when I go out my kids are getting me all the attention I ever wanted! ha!