Facing Your Fears

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This summer has been one of the best I’ve ever had.  I’ve had the chance to watch both my children grow and get to experience all sorts of ‘firsts’.  One of which was my daughter swimming by herself.  Since Princess was a baby, she was always afraid of swimming.  Anytime we got into any type of water, she either had to be sitting on a floating toy or was white-knuckle clinging for dear life to Hubby or myself.  Any attempts at letting go or going underwater was met with high-pitched shrieks of pure terror.  This summer, I made it my mission to ensure that she overcame this fear and swam confidently.

While we were at my parents, I took her into the pool and of course held onto her as I swam.  I told her that I was still going to hold onto her, but just her hands.  At first, she was extremely apprehensive.

“No Mommy, I can’t do this,” she whined.

“Yes Baby you can.  I know it’s scary at first, but I am right here and I promise nothing will happen to you. Ok?” I reassured her.

Little by little, she let me move her further away from while still holding my hands.  Then when she wasn’t expecting it, I let go and there she swam by herself with me still within arms reach from her.  You should have seen her face.  She was so proud of herself.  She then swam over to her Grampy just to prove how great a swimmer she really was.

By the time we got to the cottage 2 weeks later, the Princess was jumping in, being thrown in, swimming by herself (with water wings on) and swimming far out into the water with Hubby and I.  It was like she transformed into a happy little dolphin.  It never mattered how cold the water may have felt, she wanted to be in that water every minute of every day.

Next it was my turn to face my fears.  I have a terrible fear of speaking in public.  Can’t do it, hate it, makes me want to vomit kind of fear.  Let me tell you a little story.  Last year, one of my favourite authors, Lionel Shriver, was giving a book reading of her latest novel “The New Republic” at the Toronto Reference Library and I had to go.  I read “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and was instantly hooked. I went and sat in the audience, my books on hand for her to sign, completely and utterly enraptured in her speaking.  Then came the question period.  Everyone was asking questions and I had this perfect question in mind.  During her speaking, she had said that men were naturally competitive.  So based on the premise of the book, I thought of this question;

“Had the main character been a woman, how do you think the competitive nature would have changed?”

Simple right?  In my head it was perfect.  The flow, enunciation and grammar were spot on.  Now came the time to speak.

Not so simple.

I mustered every bit of courage I had in my body, forced my way up to the microphone, sweating profusely like a kid who stole a candy bar.  The host nodded for me to come forward.  Oh crap.

“If, I mean, had the chara – Edgar – cter, umm been a female, do you think, or would you say that, what I mean is, umm oh frig, would the story changed from like what it is now?” I stammered, stuttered and slurred.

The previous fans had stood at the microphone so they could have a head on conversation with Shriver while she answered their questions, but that is not what I did.  Nope, I RAN AWAY! Yes, you read that correctly, I ran away back to my seat.  She answered my question and stared at me from my seat while I was face down in my lap, thinking to myself “you really ran away didn’t you?”

And if you think that unpleasant interaction was the end of my bumbling foolishness, you are mistaken.  Next came time for the book signing.  I got to the front of the line and Lionel Shriver had the decency to ask me if I liked the book.  Of course in my mind, I could list off everything I liked about it.  What really happened however was complete and utter silence.  I could not answer her.  I just stared at her and nodded.  She just stared back.  My goodness that woman is intimidating close up.  From a distance, she made me quiver like a highschool nerd lothario but up close she made me a mute!  She was gracious and signed my novels.  So Lionel, if you ever read this, I’m not really that awkward, I just cannot speak in public, I really am a big fan!

I don’t know why I’m like this, but I cannot articulate myself intelligently in person like I can on paper.  Perhaps it’s the person standing in front of me or the fact I can’t hear your opinions or rebukes of my writing up close and personal.  There is a distance I suppose in writing that safeguards me from making a complete and utter ass of myself that public speaking just doesn’t offer.  My writing kept me out of the public speaking arena and safely protected in my little hovel.

Until today.

Last week, a PR rep from Zeno Canada emailed me to invite me to This Is Scarlett & Isaiah Launch Event (post coming soon) and have the opportunity to interview its young hosts, their parents and producers.  She had seen this blog and wanted to know if I would be interested.  At first I said nothing.  I knew my abilities in the public speaking forum and she was asking me to volunteer to jump into the lion’s den.  I didn’t tell Hubby until 2 days later when I casually brought it up in front of a friend.  She suggested I do it, that this was a great opportunity.  Hubby looked at me and asked if I could do it. He knows what I’m like.  After a bit of encouragement, I agreed that I would do it and began correspondence with her.  Thankfully I had seen episodes from the previous 2 seasons and didn’t feel as out of the loop.  I wrote down several questions in my notebook, bought new shoes, picked out an outfit and thought I was ready.

Until this morning.  Today was the Launch Event and all morning all I could say was “I cannot do this.  What the heck have I gotten myself into?”

I was pacing around, praying that I could find a legitimate excuse why I could not attend.  Maybe one of the kids would get ill and I’d have to stay home.  Oh that pimple, maybe it’s not a pimple.  Maybe it’s a nasty bacterial infection that requires immediate quarantine so as not to infect the rest of the planet with a deadly virus wiping out all of mankind.  Dramatic?  Oh absolutely, but those were just a few of the manic thoughts racing through my mind.

But I had to do it.  I agreed, they had schedule planned out and there was a high demand to be involved and I was chosen.  I couldn’t pass this up.  Plus my friend who encouraged me to go agreed to watch the kiddies, so it would be putting her out too.  I was scared out of my mind but I have to say it was so rewarding.

I got there and had a wonderful time.  I interviewed the hosts, met some new people and seized an opportunity instead of allowing my fear to hold me back.  Now when my children say they are afraid and I tell them to face their fears, I won’t be such a big hypocrite and run away!

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