I‘ve been prompted to discuss my first time doing something. Immediately what came to mind was my first time doing public speaking.
When I was a little kid I was beyond shy. I like invented shy. If you weren’t a family member of mine, I’d be the quietest child you had ever met. I’m not sure why I was like this, but my shyness often took a back seat to my urinary tract.
Anytime we would be doing an activity in class I’d go about my business until I had to do my business – get what I’m saying? I had no problem approaching my teachers one-on-one to let them know that things were stirring down below. I’d be excused to go to the bathroom and come back and it was no big deal.
But one day, in the middle of some lecture the teacher was giving, the urge to use the bathroom hit me like a sack of bricks to the face. It was so sudden that, without thinking, I jumped up from my seat and raised my hand.
At this point, I am more aware of my bladder than I am of what I’m doing. I know that asking to go to the bathroom (the whole “May I” instead of “Can I” question correction thing was so annoying, you remember that?) was a question; and when you asked questions you had to raise your hand.
But then my self-awareness came flooding back to me like a monsoon. From every direction of my peripheral vision, I could see the eyes of my classmates all looking right at me as I opened my mouth. Beady little eyes, eyes full of judgment and giving me their undivided attention.
I had a panic attack, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. The question I wanted to ask had vanished from my vocabulary. My palms got all sweaty, my lips were quivering and mumbling “uhh, umm, uhh” – it was disastrous. Then, my teacher finally takes notice of the only kid raising her hand and singles me out in front of the class.
I could just feel the eyes getting bigger and closer, everyone’s eyes just pointed directly at me. It was the worst feeling of all time. My knees were buckling and I was on the verge of losing my bladder juices on my jeans out of pure fear instead of need. What had I done? Everyone must be expecting me to say a question related to what my teacher had been lecturing about! I was just gonna ask to go to the bathroom! It would look like I hadn’t even been paying attention!
I could picture the sequence of events so perfectly in my head. Everyone would watch me as I walked to the door. They would whisper amongst themselves about how long I was in the bathroom for. Crack jokes about my bowel movements. They’d all stare at me as I walked back into the room, sitting in my chair. Maybe one of them would lean towards me and whisper “pee-pee” or “poopy head” – OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE? THIS IS A FIRST GRADER’S NIGHTMARE.
So because my body was pumping full of adrenaline, and because my vocabulary had gone out the window (along with my sense of security), I just blurted out the most coherent thing I could think of.
I think I caught my teacher off guard, because she just sort of stared at me. And I was just kind of staring at her with my arms up in the air. So there was this good minute or two of us just staring at each other, saying nothing. The kids around me didn’t say anything either. It was just a weird moment in time when I think everyone was trying to process what just happened.
After blinking a few times, my teacher just kind of asked me to sit down and told me that the next time I raise my hand I should ask something that has more relevance to the topic at hand or productively facilitates learning, or something that makes sense even.
I felt so exposed. I huddled into a little ball in the middle of the eyeball sea. Everyone had continued to stare at me even when I sat back down. My plan to distract attention away from me had clearly backfired.
As I kept huddled in that little shy and embarrassed ball I was quickly reminded of the reason I rose my hand in the first place. The adrenaline was washing away and the blood rushed back to my vital organs and my bladder went back to returning signals of urgency to my brain. I still needed to pee, bad. But I held it in, ignoring the painful bladder, because I dared not raise my hand again.
This, my friends, is the first time I can remember being absolutely terrified of speaking in front of others. Hence why I refer to to this as my first time public speaking.
This fear would continue to carry over into actual public speaking situations, such as (but not limited to) reciting lines at children’s plays, presenting a project to the class, reading aloud in class, or being called upon the teacher when no one volunteers and being expected to answer their question.
For the longest time I would despise public speaking, without fully understanding why. I just understood that people would stare, people would talk, and people would judge.
October 30, 2013 at 10:19 am
Your cartoons are very cute!!
October 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm
October 30, 2013 at 10:21 am
That’s awesome and super cute. I just remember throwing up a lot before a fourth grade play because I was so nervous. Everyone let me stick to my story of food poisoning, though.
October 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm
It was also super terrifying. Bro, I feel so bad for you – I never threw up, that sounds like a horrible experience!!! Plays are the worst.
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October 30, 2013 at 11:00 am
omg, this is horrible!!! poor little mich!!!!
October 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm
grl I was always so quiet and shy as a little kid cause I feared so much about receiving attention from people! I hated itttt
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October 30, 2013 at 11:33 am
Ahhh! What a horrible experience! I think teachers should start telling their kids it’s okay to speak up and ask to go to the bathroom. There’s something about being a child that makes you BE so insecure and unsure about everything (unless you were a confident child, then YAY for you). Your teacher didn’t have to be a d*ck about it! LOL. seriously!
October 30, 2013 at 12:05 pm
LOL this was so long ago, when I think discipline was more of the focus in teaching – all my teachers were like this. And when I did ask to go to the bathroom I’d always say “Can I” and my teachers would be like “I don’t know, can you?”
Damn it! I always forgot to say “may I” – so embarrassing!
October 30, 2013 at 11:40 am
Haha that’s so terrible! I always hated speaking in front of the class. Even now I can get a little nervous when I have to report on something in a big meeting or give a presentation to people at the top of the ladder. I comfort myself by remembering that I never pay attention in meetings so it’s likely my audience isn’t either.
October 30, 2013 at 12:11 pm
I think once I became a young adult I developed a severe case of “I don’t give a fuck” which really helped me with my public speaking. I had a sudden epiphany that no one else really cared what I was saying (like you mentioned) and I didn’t care what they thought. The only time now that I get nervous when speaking to people is like you – in a meeting with my managers or healthcare workers who have more knowledge than I do (I have a habit of mispronouncing medical terms…I feel like everyone probably thinks I don’t know what I’m talking about…).
October 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm
Haha I hate medical words. I have one meeting every other month where I have to report from my death list (I know, charming) and the causes of death are always these weird things that I just sort of stumble through. Still, I assume they’re all asleep.
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October 30, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Awww, What a meanie, the teacher should of been more compassionate, Public speaking is difficult at any age, and most people have a fear of public speaking, I think your illustrations are Perfect! I like how you yelled out WORDS, I used to have a nervous laugh, and that is how I dealt with being called on when I did not have the answer, needless to say my teacher was not amused!!! xoxox Lovie U Annie
October 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm
I think my teachers thought I was goofing off or something, but yeah public speaking is really hard when I was younger. Yeah, I didn’t know what to say, anything could have been blurted out really, lol! I have a friend who also laughs when she is nervous, lol!!!! Maybe its some kind of natural reaction to stress.
October 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm
Yes, it definitely is a reaction to stress, I didn’t do it all the time, only when I was nervous, but also like you I stopped worrying what people thought and I became more confident, look at us, we started our own blogs and have lots to say now!! LOL xoxoxo Annie
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October 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm
I used tob e terified of public speaking as well. It definately didn’t help that I always got bad grades for it in school either, teachers would always tell me I sounded like I didn’t care about the subject, which was kinda mean because that was just my voice at the time. I got a lot better at it though since I started having to give talks for my work. The first one wasn’t that great though so I decided to just sign up for every speaking opportunity I could find. That helped quite a lot, I have become a lot more comfortable with public speaking from it.
October 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm
Awww, that’s so mean! You know, teachers did that to me as well. I would be told that I didn’t make a lot of eye contact, so the next time I spoke I would like eye stalk my audience – but at the end of the speech I would be told the same thing!!! Still, supposedly, no eye contact…so it kind of gave me the impression that my teacher wasn’t even paying attention.
I became comfortable with public speaking when I started doing the health promotion presentations, because I found that I enjoyed the whole thing. But that as so many years later…I wish they had opportunities for me to volunteer to practice public speaking.
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October 30, 2013 at 10:53 pm
I think I pee’d in the playground somewhere as a kid because I couldn’t get myself to ask to go to the bathroom. No squatting necessary. The joys of being born male.
On a brighter note I was able to give a pretty good presentation the other day, and it was pretty funny being able to just observe people from that angle instead of freaking out. Most were just zoning out or looking at their phone. I’ve come a long way I guess haha.
October 30, 2013 at 11:18 pm
Awww that sucks Sven. But yeah, it does help if you have a penis…if you’re going to pee outside I mean.
I’m glad you got confidence with public speaking C: I recall that when I make lots of eye contact with my audience it bothers them and they stop looking at me lol…so that’s something to keep in mind when they’re taking a break from their phones!
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November 3, 2013 at 8:38 am
Awww..Poor little you. I do have to admit your story writing was hilarious. Great post.
But if it makes you feel better I was very talkative child, just the opposite of you but it didn’t stop me from embarrassing myself anyway . lol
November 3, 2013 at 10:32 am
I didn’t become a more extraverted person until I was in my first year of college. Not sure what happened…I guess a switch flipped. But I did gradually become more extraverted. That being said, my youngest years were the most shy – I wish I had been a more talkative child!! Especially if I was going to be embarrassed either way.
November 5, 2013 at 6:46 am
I’ve seen many people, some of my friends change like that. I guess life and circumstances changes a person as a whole thats why you changed as well.
But oh well who cares how you were when you were a kid, what matters is now you are confident and overall Awesome ! ;)
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July 1, 2016 at 10:39 am
You are not alone, this is one of the top 10 situations which provoke more anxiety around the world.
Some level of anxiety is completely normal in this situation and several changes happen in your body when you become anxious. These next techniques can show you how to relax and reduce physical responses to anxiety.
One of the first body response in anxiety is that you begin to breathe racing. Rapid shallow breathing leads to physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a feeling of suffocation, increased heart rate, muscle tension, and dizziness. Learning to slow your breathing down can help you bring your physical sensations of anxiety under control. One of the most important things you can do to overcome social anxiety is to face the social situations you fear.
While avoiding momentarily uncomfortable situations may help you feel better in the short term; it prevents you from learning how to cope in the long term. In fact, the more you avoid a feared social situation, the more frightening it becomes. So, the more you avoid feeling anxiety, the more power it has over you. Because anxiety and confidence are inversely related, so for you to decrease anxiety, you have to gain confidence.
Avoidance may also prevent you from reaching your goals. For example, a fear of speaking up may prevent you from standing out in the classroom or sharing your ideas at work.
While it may seem difficult to face a feared social situation, you can do it by taking it one small step at a time. In other words, it’s important to face your fears gradually.
The key is to begin with a situation that you can handle and gradually work your way up to more challenging situations. It’s like to climb a mountain. You’ll build your confidence and social skills as you move up.
For example, if socializing makes you anxious, you might begin by accompanying a friend to a party. When you become comfortable with that step, you might try introducing yourself to one new person.
To reach the mountain peak and be successful on overcoming anxiety is important to be patient and do not try to face your biggest fear right away. It’s never a good idea to move too fast, take on too much, or force things. This strategy will backfire and strengthen your anxiety.
Overcome anxiety on your own is a challenge. Luckily, there are resources and tools to help you overcome it successfully.
You can check resources and tools in the Complete Guide for Social Anxiety in the Youper Site.