Relief

I am a worrier.

I get horribly, horribly nervous before doing something where I feel that there’s a lot of pressure on me to do well. It used to be school tests, giving speeches in front of the class, and performing in plays – I would be unable to sleep the night before, and eating breakfast was out of the question. My stomach would get twisted into tighter and tighter knots of anxiety and fear, shutting down all other functions to the extent where I couldn’t speak to anyone or even think about anything other than the thing that was looming ahead of me.

Nowadays, it’s also school events that bring back these familiar feelings, but this time I’m the teacher! I don’t think I was born to be a performer. Open Classes, pretend gameshows and interviews with the children in front of their parents, recitals, presentations… I love being a teacher, but I hate demonstrating it to the parents of my students! Today, I couldn’t even speak to my colleagues or the children before the event. I had to leave the buzzing rooms and corridors, seek out a quiet place, and just sit there on my own, in silence, letting the worry worms eat me alive from the inside out.

And the thing is, I’m actually quite good at the performance part, after all that! Just as I was always able to forget about the nerves as soon as I turned over the exam paper, and just as I was able to hide my shaking hands under the desk as I gave convincing speeches in school debates, I am able to breeze into a classroom packed with parents, smile cheerily at them, and then pretend they’re not there and just have a fun, easy class with my kids. I always tell myself not to forget this for the next time – the worry has never, ever been justified before, and I put myself through torture for absolutely no reason, so why should I do it all again the next time? But I always do.

Maybe it’s just that I love that feeling of relief so much. When the thing I’ve been dreading so much it’s made me almost physically sick is finally over, and I feel as if I can stand up tall again without several tons of crushing panic pressing down on my aching shoulders. When I suddenly realise I’m starving, and that I can eat again. When I know that it’s all over and I never have to go over all the over-rehearsed material again. Sheer relief.

It just makes me happy.

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