So here I am. Taking my time and loving life. Sometimes I think I’m the only one who has had to go through ‘phases’ in life. From ‘scaredy cat’, to 'learning to trust God and be strong'. But we all have to go through what we have to, to get to where we have to be. The trick is to love the journey we’re on (I wish I’d always known this, would’ve saved me a lot of stress along the way).
So, have you ever had a morbid fear? Of something, anything? The darkness? people? talking to a crowd? exams? sickness? performing? the thought of death?
How did you feel when you finally stopped torturing yourself? 'Cos carrying around such needless fears is self induced torture. Believe me, you don’t need it.
Picture 2 Timothy 1:7, it about sums it up.
So I know this ‘lil girl who had to struggle through her peculiar fear. Now grown and wiser, she reminisces.
I stood in front of the class, my hands tightly clutching my book; I stared at my toes as tears trickled down my face. The class was still vibrating with the laughter that followed my biology presentation. I had totally flopped. My hands shook uncontrollably and my voice trembled. I had barely made out the words I had so carefully studied well.
“This is just the reason why I ask you to read thoroughly and properly. You messed up!” Mrs. Toke, the biology teacher said, looking at me with disdain, “How can you not explain the simple process of photosynthesis? I mean, I can’t understand it” she shook her head in her stylish characteristic manner.
I shyly took my seat after she was done lambasting me. Thoroughly embarrassed I placed my head on the desk and sobbed quietly.
Grace was next for her presentation. She sprang up from her seat impatient to begin. She spoke on Excretion and the formation of urine. Her voice rang out clearly and confidently. I felt more ashamed than ever. Why couldn’t I be more confident like that? I knew these things, I could write them down, I even explained them to Nike the night before, but in the heat of concentration, when all eyes are fixed on me, I lose composure, my knees wobble and my tongue goes dry. It feels terrible.
After the day was over, I rushed into my four man room in the large Girls hostel, almost knocking down Senior Tutu the house prefect who was also occupying the same room.
“Whoa, you. What’s the matter?” Tutu asked gripping my shoulders.
“Nothing” I said sobbing, trying to avoid her gaze, my head bobbing up and down. Senior Tutu was having none of it.
“You’re crying, baby girl this is too much to be nothing. Come, talk to me. What’s up? Did something happen at school today?”
She pulled me to the bed and wiped my face.
I took a deep breath and looked up; my eyes red, my face tearstained and my nose running.
“Remember the biology class I told you I had today?”
Tutu nodded, “The presentation”
“I did badly. I couldn’t talk. I was so scared. Everyone kept staring at me. I started to stammer and, and ……”I burst into a fresh round of tears, my chest rising and falling rapidly.
“Calm down Abiye, don’t beat yourself up, I can see you’re very upset about this, hmm. I want to tell you a secret. But I’ll only tell you when you’re calm. Ok? Do you want to hear it?”
“Good. Go take a shower. Come back, and then we’ll talk”
Tutu’s secret sounded daring.
“Before you do anything, believe that you can. I had the same problem in my junior classes; I used to be the class rat, scared of her own shadow. Things changed when I challenged myself. I made a few more mistakes but I learned from them.
Prepare, yes, but believe that you can do it. Don’t care about anybody sitting out there. They really don’t matter, what matters is that your work is done and you leave a good, lasting impression. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Laugh at yourself, if you must but ask for another chance to do it right, you won't be denied. Challenge yourself. Don’t wait till there’s a task, push yourself out. Get in your teacher’s face if you must but don’t be rude, she will admire your courage and take you seriously. Be prepared to make mistakes but get up every time you fall. Don’t be…….”
“AB! What are you doing there burning daylight? It’s your turn girl, boardroom, now!” Tomi’s voice could hush an army.
I scrambled up and looked around.
‘Hmm,I must have traveled back in time’ I thought, smiling and shaking my head.
I looked at Tomi who seemed like she’d just had an ordeal.
“What happened? Was it tough?”
“My dear, ‘o gbo mi’ (it was hard), but trust me now, I did my thing!”
“Yes o!" we shared a high five.
"I gat to go in now. See ya later”
I packed my materials and headed for the board room.
"Break a leg." Tomi called after me.
I reflected on where I was coming from and my heart warmed.
I made a mental note to buy a gift for Tutu’s new baby, as I entered the board room for my third presentation in two days, in defense of my new role as Communications Manager.
So, we all have those little, subtle fears we try hard to hide.
But really, shouldn't we be free?