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There’s No Business Like Show Business – Trust 30 – June 12th

I will not hide my tastes or aversions.  I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself.  How will you surprise yourself this week?

(Author: Ashley Ambirge)

I’ve written before about stage fright.  I have it.  I struggle with it all of the time.  The notion of ever being any type of performer, whether it be actor, musician, dancer, etc., is enough to give me the sweats.

I discovered this early.  When I was in the fourth grade, some older girls decided to put together a pom-pom/dance team.  I had always played sports and was the only girl with two blocks of our house my age.  Dancing?  This was my chance to do something girly – a way to fit in.

Twice a week after school, about ten of us would meet in the grassy area between the third and fifth grade buildings.  There was an outlet there, where one of the teenagers could plug in her portable record player.  She had a 45 of “Staying Alive,” by the Bee Gees.

Somehow, a spot was obtained to perform at an assembly for the parents.  We just had to practice our routine until we had it down cold.

On the night of the “show,” we lined up outside of the cafeteria…a bunch of nine-year olds in red or blue tee shirts, white shorts and knee-high socks.  The first pumping notes started and we strutted in.  None of us had actually seen “Saturday Night Fever;” but, one of the teenagers had.  She’d had us strutting back and forth in the grass like John Travolta for weeks.

We got through the majority of the number pretty well.  I could actually hear myself counting steps out loud.  Toward the end of the song, half of the line was to run out one way and the other half was to run out in the opposite direction.  Seemed pretty simple; except that, for weeks, I had been practicing on the left side. On the night of the show, the bossier of the two teenagers switched me with another girl.  That girl apparently hadn’t lost as many teeth as me, and she made for better eye-candy.

That change!  As the song ended, I turned exactly on point and started to skip…unfortunately, I was skipping in the wrong direction.  Angry teenager was frantically waiving her arms and doing that yell-whisper thing.

“Other way!  Go the other way!”

In my confusion, I froze.  For an eternity that could only have lasted a couple of seconds, I just stood there.  The other girls had safely cleared the floor; but, I had ended up in the exact center of the stage.  I heard a dad laugh, and I could feel the blood rush to my face.

Suddenly, the message from my brain made it to my feet.


I did, and still in the wrong direction.

By the time we all gathered outside the cafeteria again, the angry teenager was yelling.

“Why did you turn that way?  We practiced it thousands of times!”

I was too mortified to cry.

It didn’t matter that I had hit every other mark, or that two other girls had actually run into each other and almost fallen.  I was the one that ran the wrong way.

From that moment on, any time that I would have to get up in front of people to speak or even just to introduce someone, I would worry myself physically ill.

Throughout high school and college, into my working life, I’ve had many obligations for public speaking.

The biggest surprise of all was to find myself in a career where standing up in front of people to speak is a regular occurrence.  These days, if I’m able to get more than a couple of hours of sleep the night before or if I can get through the presentation without turning red and blotchy, it’s a good day.

I have a presentation on Thursday this week.  I’m going to try to surprise myself by not worrying about it.  It’s just insurance, after all.  The employees will have already spent hours in new hire orientation.  About the only way that I will be able to keep their eyes from glazing over will be to set myself on fire.

(image credit)