This I Believe

Ryan - San Gabriel, California
Entered on October 22, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: fear

My Terrifying Fears

About a year ago, when I was around eighteen years old, I often thought to myself that I was afraid of nothing. Looking back at my thoughts, I realize that I didn’t look deep inside myself to see that my life is full of fears. I do believe in fear, but these fears are personal fears that I have. I think about them frequently. These personal fears may be common around the world, but I have to deal with them myself because they occurred in the past.

Humiliation is one of my two fears I occasionally think about. It’s hard for me to speak in front of people because I don’t want to make a fool of myself around people I do not know. Once, I had to speak in front of a whole classroom of strangers. This happened at the beginning of my eighth grade school year. I was in English class and the whole class had to read an embarrassing story that they encountered when they were young. Everyone else read their story, but I was the only one left who didn’t stand up and read my story out loud to the class. I sat still in my chair while eagerly looking at the clock on the wall right above the blackboard. Every time I looked at the clock, I felt the minute hand was heading backwards. My left leg was shaking and I wanted the class to end already. Although I punched my left leg softly to stop shaking, it didn’t help at all. Since I never got up to read my essay, I decided to take the zero for it. When I look back at that day at school, I realize that it wouldn’t have been a very big deal to stand up and read my story to the whole class. Still, the fear of humiliation still exists inside of me because I don’t like to be in the spotlight.

As for my second fear, stage fright is one fear I remember vividly that also happened during eighth grade near the end of the school year. The play the class performed introduced many historical figures and I was to recite a line as Mark Anthony. It was only one line, but I was very nervous. The butterflies in my stomach were working overtime. Also, I was so afraid of forgetting the line that I kept repeating it over and over again. Suddenly, the announcer called Mark Anthony out onto the stage and as soon as I walked out onto the stage, I saw the whole school looking at me with their eager eyes. I felt very small and hearing chuckles from the students and one of the students shouting out my name didn’t help any. Finally, in a crackling, shrieking voice I delivered my line – complete with gestures, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” When I left the stage, my heart was throbbing in my chest, and I could hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears. However, the play wasn’t over since it was divided into two assemblies. I had to recite my line one more time, but I had more confidence in myself. This time my heart wasn’t throbbing nor was I as nervous as I was during the first assembly. I still knew I had stage fright, but I had to overcome my fear of it.

As the years progress, I realize that my fears still haunt me and may have an effect on me later on in life. It does show that I do believe in fear. My fears show that I am a flawed person who is afraid. I have my own personal fears just as every other person has their own personal fears. If I were to overcome my humiliation and stage fright, would I be a different person than I am today? I probably would.