Those who knew me very well when I was much younger would know that I was what you would call a fear-fear person. I was literally scared of everything. From live animals to frozen fish, from darkness to enclosed spaces, from heights to water, from plastic flowers to real ones… Yeah. Basically everything. I was even too scared to learn to swim or ride a bicycle. That bad.
So you won’t be surprised when I tell you how scared I was of facing a crowd. Any crowd. Both known and unknown. I would literally freeze if I had to. I have a vivid memory from Nursery 2 going to primary 1 when I had to read the whole Psalm 91 in front of parents and staff at my graduation. It was going good until they all started hailing, screaming, standing up, clapping and suddenly, I froze. I just couldn’t go on with all those people’s eyes fixed on me and I just stood on the stage looking into space, till my teacher came to take me away.
Yes. All that happened. But somehow, this same girl ended up becoming a star debater in secondary school. Don’t worry, I’ll give you the gist.
So in my school, we used to have this Wednesday weekly debate thing on days when there were no club activities. Of course, I had never dreamt of being on that stage. I was usually with my friends, laughing at those who flopped and rooting for anybody representing our class. This explains why it was funny and almost scary when my then English teacher (Mr Oguntade) told me after his class that I should represent my class in the debate that day. This was after getting a killer score of 28/50 in the argumentative essay he asked us to write. This was a badass score by the way…for those who schooled in the Nigerian system. (If you know, you know.)
I laughed it off and said I couldn’t possibly do it but Mr Oguntade didn’t forget or let it go. He came to my class during the break and called me to the staff room to ‘practise’ my points. I was literally crying and begging. You know what he said? “Go there and embarrass yourself.”
I’m like wahhhhhhhh???!!! 😡
I later got to know Mr Oguntade never took no for an answer. He told me that he could not take the fear out of me but what he could do was put both me and the fear on the stage and it was up to me to decide who would win.
And so I was dragged out of the toilet where I went to hide to the school auditorium where the debate was to hold. The topic was “We’re happier than our forefathers” and I can remember thinking about how my forefathers were definitely happier than me at that moment. 😭😭 I thought of actually adding that to my points since I was opposing the motion😂. Long story short, yes, we won. I even received a standing ovation and everyone I met later that day kept congratulating me and saying they never knew I had it in me.
Plot twist: I never knew I had it in me either but when I was on that stage, all I could think about was what Mr Oguntade said and I didn’t want fear to win me on that stage. I wanted to win fear and I did. I did it. Me and my fear.
The very next day, I was asked to represent the school in an external debate competition on the same topic and I came second. The day after that I was asked to prepare for another external debate, different topic and I came first. And that’s how I became a debate champion at school. I represented the school in every single debate competition from then on and almost always came first. Sometimes, I even won speaker of the day award. My name actually got on the school website.😭
The summary is that I was scared but I went ahead, fears and all and I came out on top. I literally got a standing ovation for facing my fears.
To be honest, you might not always get a standing ovation for facing yours. In fact that was the only fear that got me a standing ovation lol. But you will definitely give yourself a standing ovation in your heart when you cross that one thing off the list.
Nobody is asking you not to be afraid. In fact, be afraid. Be veeerryyyy afraid. But the important thing is to go ahead despite your fears. Do it, fears and all. Fear really cannot hold you down. You’re the only one that can hold yourself down and I’m forever grateful to Mr Oguntade for teaching me this. (I am going to email him this write up. 😊)
So my advice to you is to wake up everyday with a plan to do one thing that scares you and little by little, one day at a time, you’ll stay winning.
I know we all fear different things and have taken steps to overcome them. We’ve been motivated by different people at different points in our lives. Let me know in the comments section. Let’s learn from one another. Thank you so much for reading.
Your tiny eyed storyteller 😍
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