Guest Contributor: Jonia Broderick
Have you ever been afraid? Afraid of being laughed at? Afraid of making a fool of yourself? Afraid of rejection? Afraid of getting in trouble? Afraid of not being good enough?
I say that, but people never believe me. They look at me and think, “She’s so happy. She loves being around people. She has so much confidence.” It’s that how people see you, that you can look that way – confident and capable – but inside you’re a quivering mess, terrified of somehow messing up.
For me, I love to perform and be in front of an audience, but one-on-one can be frightening.
What sorts of things scare you? Are there situations that you don’t want to go into because you’re afraid of how people will look at you or how you will perform? Are you able to put on a good mask, even though inside it really scares you?
I made a discovery many years ago. I call it the discovery of wearing the badge.
When I got a job in retail I was scared. Now I was going to have to walk up to absolute strangers and begin talking to them. To say I was terrified would be putting it mildly. I had been made fun of by kids at school and my siblings for my entire life. Plus, because of the situation at my home, I felt like a massive loser. Sure, I had lots of friends, but those were different. Now I was going to be expected to reach out in a different way and face rejection every time.
But something funny happened on my first day on the job. I put on my work badge. It said my name and the name of the store. All of a sudden, I discovered that I was able to talk to literally anyone who came into the store and into my department. As long as I wore that badge, I was brave. I met some of the most wonderful people during the many years I worked there! I absolutely loved many of the customers that I got to know, and they greatly influenced the rest of my life.
Ever since that time I have looked for badges that I can wear when I’m scared of a situation. Maybe it’s the badge of being a student or a teacher or a good neighbor or a friend. When I worked as a writer and had to interview people, I put on the badge of “big grownup writer.” It sounds silly, but it worked. Whatever badge I wear I find that it helps me get through frightening situations. It helps me find the confidence to accomplish what I need to get done without freezing and panicking. And once I’m involved in the situation, I totally enjoy myself.
You are good enough as you are. But sometimes we need to use tools to help us overcome our fears. What badges can you wear to help you when you’re afraid or anxious? I hope that you are able to not only dream big but have the courage to do the things you dream. You can do it!