It’s easy at any age to move to the background of most situations you find yourself in, particularly as a teenager or a 20-something your old. You find yourself becoming more and more introverted, unable to express your thoughts and opinions when talking with others, and in group settings. In classes in high school, in lectures and tutorials in university, and then later on in a workplace, you find yourself becoming a part of the shadow and becoming more and more nervous to speak out loud and express your opinions on anything.
It’s an easy trap to get in to, something with which I’m battling at the moment.
I’ve been doing some research on how to present yourself better and get your opinions across in the correct manner (mainly because I have to do lots of presentations and such in junior honours these days). Articles like this really don’t make it any less scary and there seems to be a ton of rules on how to get your opinion across in the correct manner.
We hear about people getting backlash for voicing their opinions on a daily basis. We read posts on Facebook from people complaining about an article, or people discussing something someone said in a coffee shop, or see news stories about people getting put in jail for saying something out of order. And don’t even get me started on the suppression of creativity and opinion that’s instilled in the educational system. I suppose these have put us in a position where we understand the consequences of saying something perhaps ‘wrong’ to many people, and that terrifies us from expressing ourselves fully.
Because of the dauntingness (yes, I made this word up) of speaking up in a group setting, I’ve found myself sitting in class with a great idea on the tip of my tongue, my face blushing every time I try and get it out, and getting very angry at myself when the opportunity passes. Or, someone else says the idea and I find myself furiously nodding my head in agreement, trying to portray to everyone that I also had the same idea.
On the other hand, there’s also been times where I’ve said something out loud to a close group of friends or even in a larger group setting that I’ve instantly regretted and found myself overanalysing what everyone else thinks about what I said. It’s difficult to remember that in reality, they forget about it a minute later, and we continue to worry!
The only way I’ve found to overcome this is to force yourself to just say whatever’s on your mind, and put yourself in positions where you have to speak in public/group settings, despite the sometimes bad reactions. Most of the time, someone else is probably thinking exactly the same thing you are or agree with some parts of what you’re saying.
Being a teacher (never mind being in a foreign country) helped me immensely with overcoming this fear. Standing up in front of 15 teenagers, some of them only a year younger than you, and having to act like a professional in order to get them to respect you is no easy job. Coming back to Scotland after doing something like that, I can completely see the improvement in my confidence and ability to express myself in an academic setting, but also in a social setting.
Two years ago, before I moved to a foreign country, I never would have had the balls to run for the student representative council at my university or run for President of the French society. Both of which I knew I had to write and deliver a speech, and get people on my side and trusting my intentions. Again, this was no easy feat but even the sole fact that I took on the challenge (and succeeded in both, FYI!) is a great achievement.
It just goes to show that, as cheesy as it sounds, facing your fears completely works in this situation. If you find that you’re stopping yourself from taking opportunities just because you’re terrified of some aspect of the process, you need to reconsider and think about the positive outcomes of you going through that difficult time!
Something to keep in mind and if you see someone in a similarly difficult situation, spread some positivity and remind them that good things happen to those who explore and listen to their wishes.
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and if you’d like to read any of the other posts in this A-Z blogging series, here’s all the links:
L: Leaving Aix