Wednesday, March 25, 2009
It was a hot summers day of 2002, in a cool air-conditioned classroom in the institution I started my educational journey 15 years ago.Everyone in the room was silent.The silence which echoed the sound of my racing heart-beat.I stood before the class with the steady consciousness of tiny beads of sweat forming on my forehead.Just an hour ago I was enjoying with my friends.Laughing and talking.Now not even the shadow of the laughter existed on my face.I looked down into the paper that was in my clammy hands and read out,"Determination.."..suddenly realizing the purpose of my standing in front of a student population of 40...
Few moments later, I tried to recall what I had memorized but all that came out was ,"Determination is confidence.Confidence refers to self-determination.."I felt my face burn with mixed feelings of embarrassment and shame as I couldn't remember another word of my prepared speech and started having the premonition that I was going to cry.So I quickly mumbled a "Thank You" and went back to my seat.
This was my situation back in the seventh standard.Stage fright.Six years later, not much of an improvement has taken place.I go through the same ordeal everytime I go in front of an audience.It even cost me prestigious positions in school.
So what exactly is stage fright?
Stage fright or performance anxiety refers to the fear or persistent phobia related to performance in front of an audience.With reference to public speaking, it is known as Glossophobia.It has numerous signs: fluttering or pounding heart, tremor in the hands and legs, diarrhea, facial nerve tics, dry mouth and so on.It may also lead to stuttering,stammering and palpitation and at times even unconsciousness.According to experts deep breathing, meditative exercises or doing visualization prior to taking the stage often helps.But if the anxiety levels are high, then therapeutic assistance must be taken.
I can definitely vouch for the pounding heart,tremor in hands and legs,dry mouth,and stammering through personal experience.But my latest feat has been to overcome the fear of speaking in front of anybody and everyody.Joining a media related course where public speaking is essential was my first step,the next being taking part in all possible programmes as my courage allowed and third, before doing any kind of performance reminding myself that 'I can do it'.
But we must all remember nobody ever died from stage fright or speaking in public. According to surveys, many people would rather die than speak in public. Many around the world are a part of this problem just like me.
All I would like to suggest is that "Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live".So shed your fears and express yourself to the world around you.