Growing up, I was painfully shy. Shoulders hunched, head down, jacket zipped up to my chin every day of 7th grade (including those days when it was a sweltering Louisiana day). Shy.
If I had to step out of my comfort zone, I had panic attacks. Selling yearbook ads? The end of the world. Making a presentation in front of my class? I spent a lot of time looking at my shoes. Realizing as I compared my shoes to my classmates’ that I did not inherit the shoe gene. (*Shoe gene: The strip of genetic coding in feminine persons’ DNA that leads to an obsession with shoes a la Carrie in Sex and the City) Yeah…not so much. I know Manolo Blahnik is a designer? of shoes…sort of…but I couldn’t pick out any from a lineup.
Anyway…to resurface out of that rabbit hole…I was not made to be in front of a crowd.
I attended no dances in high school because 1) I was a chosen-last-for-gym-class-after-the-dust-particles klutz and 2) I was afraid of people looking at me. Until I went to the state FBLA conference my senior year and was forced (pretty much kicking and screaming…or at least as much kicking and screaming as a person who hates being looked at would do in front of her classmates) to go to the dance at the conference. And realized…if you put me in a group of people dancing by themselves, some crazed part of my brain (probably in the frontal lobe somewhere) turns into a dancing maniac.
(Waits for various family members to peel their lower jaws off of the floor)
And then…came college. Where I met my two best friends in the whole world. One of whom liked to stage manage the university’s plays. And there was a version of Electra that needed casting. With bit parts. During a semester when I was already taking 18 hours (including speech, which I dreaded…see above). The speech teacher was the director of Electra. And my best friend managed to talk our other best friend and me into trying out for two of the bit parts (servants).
They say college is a time in your life when you learn who you are. And when I stood on that stage at practice (and performance), the part of my brain that was crazed and seemed to like dancing maniacally decided to peep out again. I found out that I am a ham. A hear-me-in-the-back-of-the-auditorium-without-a-microphone ham.
When…just two-and-a-half years later, I induced more jaw dropping from family members and friends with my decision to become a teacher and–yes–stand in front of a part-time audience daily…I should have known there was no turning back.
A few years ago…I discovered a new love: the microphone…which seems to induce a “let’s get ready to rumble”/DJ lilt to my voice. We recently had a changing of the guard at our school. Our assistant principal became our principal (but she knew what happened when you put a microphone in my hand). Our new “high school” assistant principal had…no…idea.
And then…Open House happened. And I had a microphone in my hand. And the grandstanding voice came out, leaving people who didn’t know about that predilection of mine doing the furrowed brow head cock.
The microphone, to me, is like alcohol to Raj Koothrappali on Big Bang Theory: it takes away most fears and inhibitions…leaving that crazy part of my brain dancing in the aisles (metaphorically, thankfully).
Needless to say, the new assistant principal mentioned how shocked she was by the me with a microphone as an accessory. And this is before seeing me at the honor roll assembly or the middle school dance.
Hopefully someone warns her before then.
Am I the only one who did not inherit the “shoe gene”? What do you do as a confidence booster?