Am I really comfortable in front of people?

Teacher BHodge
“Excuse me while I run far, far away. . . perhaps I’ll lose my lunch, then drop out of the education program while I’m at it.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve done this before, I told myself. It’s not a problem. And yet when I stood in front of a class of teenagers with a very competent lesson plan in my hand, my stomach tied itself up in knots and my heart quailed. Later on, I chalked it up to performance anxiety.

The thing is, I’m not really afraid of anything; and I have done this before. I acted for two and a half years in high school theater. I hosted an open mic night for two years at a café in my hometown. I got up there every week and played the same songs over and over again; I’m fairly certain some of those people wanted to kill me, but that did not stop me.

Back to the high school theater though: really, I think I would make a great actor, but that’s not what I feel like I want to do with my life. So I’m not chasing it. But I’ll get on the stage fearlessly, and I have done so several times in my life. So what happened to that confidence when I tried to teach a lesson plan in my practicum? I can’t tell you; maybe I just changed. Or maybe it was the unfamiliar context.

Skyline High Farnsworth Theater (Inside)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Years later, when we had a theater reunion at my high school, my old friend Bryan said that he wouldn’t go because he spent most of high school in the theater and never landed a big part. He was actually bitter about that, and for a moment I felt his bitterness too; but then it passed as I realized how selfish and petty it must be to feel that way. I was happy in the theater. And really, aren’t all of the parts important?

I mean, they take the time and effort to cast them all, and certainly they wouldn’t waste time on casting unnecessary parts. Not to mention that no matter what your role, you still get the full-on theater experience – all the practices and rehearsals, the make up and set construction, the cast party and the camaraderie. So really, both in life and in the theater, it’s not about the prominence of the roles we play, but how seamlessly we fit into the big picture, capisce?

on the Teisenkopf mountain, Black Forest
on the Teisenkopf mountain, Black Forest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s why I recently passed up the opportunity to apply for the lead position in my department at work – instead of focusing on the glory of being “the boss” – if you can call it that – I decided that it just isn’t for me at this time. I like playing the bit part in my department, which really isn’t a bit part per se. Plus, I recognized that the lead role in the department comes with increased stress, extra hours, and just a whole bunch of crap that I didn’t want to deal with. Besides, I do a great job at what I do, and I don’t think the company would benefit from losing me in that position. No matter how many people ask me to apply, I’m not going to do it.

My point is, if someone isn’t comfortable in a certain milieu – including in front of others – then perhaps they’re not playing their proper role. Or maybe they need to adjust to the new role! Heaven knows whenever I start a new job it’s like venturing into the wilds of the Bavarian Black Forest in a Grimm fairy tale, and all those unknown co-workers are potentially dangerous wolves and bears. Now that’s a little nervy.

English: Pleiades Star Cluster
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But regardless of where we find ourselves, the fact is that each of us is a powerfully burning star, regardless of where we sit in the night sky or how faint the light appears to those who see it. Make sure you enjoy it while it lasts, because every star eventually burns out!

And don’t let that stop you from having a good time!



This post was prompted by today’s Daily Post prompt.



  1. I think playing a part onstage and speaking to teenagers as oneself are entirely different things. I never even got nervous playing characters, because if they screwed up, hey, it wasn’t me. But, I always get nervous speaking to groups. Once I am out there, I love it, but the lead up is tough.

  2. I agree with Andra. For me too there is a difference between performance art and presenting something as an expert, particularly when there is something at stake. That said, I haven’t acted on a stage in many many years, so I may feel different now. But I do agree that trying to have a good time on stage or in front of people is a key to feeling more relaxed. Try to imagine the crowd as people — real people — and speak to just one or just two.get into it. It helps.

    • So I suppose I hadn’t considered the difference between performance vs. presentation. Maybe the difference is presence – when I’m performing the point is to be somewhere else, whether in terms of acting in a scene or being transported by music, whereas the presentation requires me to be there in front of a bunch of strangers who judge me with their judgey eyes.

  3. Yeah, I turned down those hints about becoming ‘administration.’ Look, folks, I could walk into my classroom, shut the damn door and………………….teach.

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