Stage fright: A monologue
You know high school is not easy. Period..
Finding your own identity, trying to make your place in the world, realizing what you want to do for the rest of your life.
You’ve probably heard it all before: I’m not working hard enough, my grades are slipping and I need to fix them immediately, I’m not being smart enough—at least compared to that other kid. And even if I’m working to the bone every night trying to finish a report or a World Literature assignment, I still feel like it’s never enough. So I work and work until I feel tired, drained, lonely or a combination of all three, only stopping when I can work no longer and I’m left with an empty pit in my stomach, a pit that churns every time I imagine the world awaiting me on the other side of the finish line, claws outstretched.
Even to this day, I’m still not certain if I’m ready to go out in the world to face that.
There are expectations. They build up like walls that close in around me. The clock ticks as deadlines creep up, and I struggle to stay afloat in a whirlpool of work. I sometimes feel as if I’m drowning, like life is a wave that keeps dragging me beneath. I feel alone and cold and scared with no one there beside me and no light to guide.
I want to act, but I’m not sure if it’s truly what I want. Oh sure, I keep talking to teachers and asking questions, but I still have more—more questions that I’m still scared to ask in case my teachers think I’m stupid. I’m unsure, and to them, to everyone around me, unsure means undesirable. The audience wants confidence. All the world’s watching, and I’m pushed up on that stage too quickly, and even as a veteran actor, I can’t help that my knees are shaking every time I move and that words and rules are swimming around inside my head, feeling murky and swampy as I stare out over the shadows at everyone watching me.
After the curtain drops, I can’t help but worry what they say about me in their deafening whispers.
I try on countless masks of different shapes and sizes. Some have been recommended to me by loved ones. Some come from those who think they know me best. Others are thrust upon me and I don’t dare defy.
Sometimes, a mask just won’t fit right. I enter stage left, and when I purse my lips to speak, my lines don’t come out the way they were meant to. When this happens, it can feel like no one in the world understands me, that I’m barely standing, barely holding on to who I am.
So who am I? Who are you?
Are you what your parents want you to be?
Are you the person your friends know?
Are you what your instructors want?
Are you what your teacher sees?
Today, I want to walk in your shoes, to see through your eyes, to get in your head. I even want your successes. I want to live your life. Because if life is a play, no one knows what happens behind the scenes. I don’t know your failures as much as I know your triumphs. I don’t know your fears as well as I know your beliefs. And often, this makes it easy to be a critic, to look for the weaknesses and holes in your performance.
Let’s face it, critics can make good points that we can use to grow, if we study those points and learn from them. I’m not that flexible to the point of bending to everyone’s wills, but I’m still able to mature and grow.
Because as people say, sometimes late bloomers have the most beautiful blossoms.
My mom once told me, “Take things one step at a time and learn. Learn from others and from yourself; learn from mistakes and successes. Learn to love and be brave just as much as you can feel angry and afraid. Try and live life the way you want to live it.”
Here comes a thought: It’s okay to be afraid. And yeah, even though most people don’t approve of these emotions, it’s okay to be angry, jealous, bitter, and uncertain. The future isn’t set in stone and there’s plenty of blank pages to fill up with the rest of the tale. And no one has to do it alone, or even right now.
So, here’s to every kid that feels scared and unsure, because there are so many of you out there. It’s hard, and I know it, but then again, what’s life without those ups and downs? I tip my hat and raise my glass to each and every one of you― the glass that’s always either half-full or half-empty― but I suppose I’ll leave each and every one of you to decide that for yourself.