In a few of my classes recently, professors and supervisors seem to be constantly breathing down our necks about fearlessness.
“Don’t be afraid to stand out. Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.”
And to some, it was the worst. The people in my class would roll their eyes, look around, pretty much do anything to not have to make eye contact with the professor. But me, I stopped short.
Had I ever had trouble standing out?
I couldn’t remember. I had pretty much sealed my personal brand in the j-school. I was the funny girl. I was the class clown with sarcastic outbursts. I was the one who made the bingo board with each square being a weird phrase or term our professor constantly uses. I was hardly uncomfortable, and speaking up in class was my specialty. I had as many insightful and calculated things to say as I had outbursts, so for most professors my willingness to work hard was a trade-off for my large and occasionally intimidating personality.
But like I said before. I was hardly uncomfortable. But when I was, I was. And there aren’t many things that leave me in a state of vulnerability, being afraid and worried about people’s perceptions of me, but there was one thing that did that: live shots. I hated them.
I hadn’t even done a complete one until last week, but it was the worst. I, Stephanie, the one with constant comments and who definitely isn’t easily embarrassed, was stumbling over her words. I was confusing facts because as soon as I walked in front of the camera, my brain turned into scrambled eggs. I felt like a useless blob. We had a special guest in the j-school, who helped us with the exercise, and she was beckoning at me with her whole body to scoot closer to the tv monitor. I couldn’t. All I could do was grimace back at her, and apologize with my eyes for my feet being planted firmly where they stood. I couldn’t move if I wanted to.
I didn’t even know where to look. All I could see back was myself on the monitor and it wasn’t pretty. I looked back at the guest. “THE LENS.” She pointed. I glared back into the lens. And I got it done. I walked back into the classroom. My class applauded, probably for how painstakingly awful it was.
If I were easily embarrassed, I would have crawled under the table. But instead I looked at my professor. I shrugged, laughing. “You always asked me why I picked radio and not TV. Now you know.”
It stinks to be embarrassed in front of your class, and being on TV is definitely a vulnerable place for me. (Which is weird because I’m used to being on a stage from my involvement with drama.) But it’s okay. I’m not afraid to stand out. I’m not afraid to be different. I’m not afraid to speak up or ask questions. I’m also not afraid of imperfection, and I’m not afraid of the monstrosity that was my live shot. Just don’t put me in front of a camera and tell me to talk anymore.