Exit: Stage Fright.

I always feel like I need a paperbag over my head when I'm up on stage. | Photo by Tina Lifford.
I always feel like I need a paperbag over my head when I’m up on stage. | Photo by Tina Lifford.

I was never a fan of performing on-stage, not even when I used to play the piano and every year end, there would be an exam that requires playing on stage in front of an audience. Nope, nope, nope. I’d rather be backstage and in charge of props and resources than to smile and wave nervously at the crowd. Maybe that’s why I’m not a performer now. Then again, I never wanted to be.

During my childhood all the way until adulthood, I’ve always stayed away from the limelight. I never liked having the spotlight shone at me for whatever reason, be it a good thing or a bad thing. I was what you could call a “law-abiding citizen”, ensuring that I never crossed the limit into turning into a criminal, petty or otherwise. And I don’t go clubbing either. I’ve never gone clubbing and I pretty much don’t want to try clubbing either. Others paint the town red on Friday nights. I’m at home, snug and comfortable in bed, and reading. That could just be my introvert self speaking. Because with friends, I’m talkative and chatty, getting excited and stumbling all over my conversations.

This may have played a big role in shaping my future, because as I grew older, I resented being put out there and in front of everyone. Where I could trade places with others, I would. If I couldn’t, I’d find a way to trade anyway. As a college student, these trade-offs worked. I got through the semesters and got my degree. Now that I’m a working adult, the tables have turned. There is no such thing as a trade-off. You either get it done or get out. My biggest fear is not so much of talking in front of people. I can talk, no doubt about that. My biggest fear is public speaking. Every time I go up on stage, I clam up and stare at the many faces in front of me. My eyes dart here and there, thumbs twiddling, with my brain trying its very best to think of an escape route. More often than not, I’d stand there like a dumb kid, unable to move, unable to breathe. Sometimes, I’d calmly walk off the stage despite having not uttered a word.

Clearly, I have issues with my self-confidence. That could be one of the reasons that is holding me back. Corruption and bribery doesn’t pay either. Being corrupted and trying to bribe your coursemates into trading places with you when it is time to present your assignments to your lecturer is definitely not the way to go. Because now I’m in an even tighter situation than ever, and while management is being nice by not penalizing you, the fact remains that I have to get over my fears somehow and speak up. Because this is my career we’re talking about. Not your parents, not your friends, not your spouse. Just you.

“What? It’s my turn to present? Where’s the nearest exit?”

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I think it’s normal to be have stage fright. Presenting to high school students was one of the most nerve-racking and ultimately the best thing I have done in a job. It’s worth it in the end.


    1. Sheu Quen says:

      Yes I agree with you on that. But still, the idea of standing up there in front of an audience still gets to me. Even though I’ve graduated from high school a long time ago.


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