Stage Fright Social Anxiety Disorder
It's your freshman year of high school. For the first time you are allowed to choose your creative arts electives. You fill out a form ranking classes from one to five (one being the journalism class you want to take and five being the drama class you would dread taking). Somehow you wind up with drama class. You show up to class, getting A's on all of the written exams because it's not knowing the fundamentals of acting that scare you, or even memorizing lines, it's actually getting on stage and preforming in front of the entire class!
A few weeks into class you stand nervously backstage, waiting until it's your turn to deliver your perfectly prepared monologue. You take deep breaths, trying to calm yourself down but you just keep getting more and more anxious. Finally the teacher calls your name. You walk out onto the stage, heart pounding. The room starts spinning and the floor seems to be moving under your feet. You get five words out before collapsing on the stage floor.
You Can Overcome
If this sounds like you (and I know it sounds exactly like me), then you are not alone. Stage fright is one of the most common phobias throughout the country. Even those who don't have social anxiety disorder or stage fright would probably still wouldn't go as far as saying they enjoy the experience of speaking in front of an audience. Sometimes, however, we must do things that cause us anxiety in order to move forward with our lives.
Most college (and sometimes high school) curriculum require that you take a public speaking course in order to graduate. Sometimes this can be avoided by visiting a mental health professional and being officially diagnosed with social anxiety disorder or something similar. My psychologist offered to sign me out of my college public speaking course, but I declined and decided to face my fear.
I am currently halfway through taking the course and am happy with my decision for the following reasons:
- I have gotten to know everyone in my class pretty well and by the time I got to my third speech, I wasn't nearly as nervous speaking in front of them
- I may need the skills learned in public speaking in order to succeed in other aspects of my life
- I feel good facing my fear and have actually found I enjoy public speaking now that I've gotten used to it
- My instructor is very supportive and is very good at bringing out the best in people
- In writing my speeches I have learned a lot about topics I probably wouldn't have researched otherwise
If you really feel that your anxiety is so great that you will never be even remotely comfortable on a stage, there is no shame in it. Stage fright and social anxiety are hard things to overcome but even if you don't overcome your fear, you should at least seek counseling to learn how to control it to a certain degree. Before I started going to therapy, I couldn't even go to the grocery store by myself without having a panic attack. Now I'm ok with crowds as long as I'm not in front of them, and I've even overcome most of that anxiety. All fears and anxieties are a mental state and can be treated like any other disease or disorder.
If you enjoy my writing try my new eBook!
- The Rise of Dawn: A Collection of Poetry and Short Stories: Dawn Collins: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
A collection of poetry and short stories. The short stories include "The Silver Dragon" the story of a young girl from a race known as the 'buchies' and the start of an adventure with two pixies and a dragon, "Forever Eight" the story of a young boy