First of all, thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Edublog Awards. I didn't win, but a lot of really great bloggers did. You can see all the winners here.
On Friday last week I got up in front of my entire school community, 440 teen age boys and about 60 teachers, and sang a song. It was part of a Faculty Holiday concert that we do every year. I have never sung a solo in front of a large audience. The first time I did Karaoke was this summer on vacation and there were only about 50 people there. That was a huge accomplishment for me and this Friday was even bigger.
I am a performer, I have been acting and dancing on stage since I was a little kid. But when I was in 6th grade I tried out for a small singing group and was told that I can't sing. I'll never forget that day. And unfortunately, I let one music teacher's opinion shape who I am. I stopped singing. I only auditioned for chorus and dancing parts for shows. I was embarrassed to sing next to someone and always felt they must be cringing at my voice.
It has taken me 30 years, but I am determined to face my fear of singing and take back that part of myself. As Carol Dweck might say, you aren't born a singer, you become a singer. If this is something I want badly enough, it is something I can do. I am determined not to let my fears stop me from living my life. In fact I've been actively seeking out my fears and facing them down this year.
This summer I learned to sweep row. I have always loved the water and my school has a crew team. I volunteered to help coach the middle school team last spring. "Coaching" involved standing next to a variety of amazing coaches and watching and learning. In the summer I finally got into a boat myself and learned how to row. I even rowed in a race. The race part is where I was terrified.
I have never been a competitive person. In fact, competition scares me. I get so anxious that I can't perform. I tried running a few 5K races years ago and I could barely breath, I was so nervous. This year, this was another fear that I was determined to overcome. I pushed through the fear and raced. It was an amazing experience. I'm so glad I did it. (I'm in the two seat, which is second from the bow of the boat.)
In fact, the more fears I face down, the easier it is to do. Neither of these experiences were resounding successes. My singing was not beautiful and we came in second to last in the race. But, neither were they horrible failures. Instead, I survived both and grew a little stronger and a little braver with each experience. In 2010 I'm going to continue to row and I am going to take some singing lessons.
The more I push myself, the more I want to push myself. I'm seeking out my fears, rather than running from them.
I have been so energized by my own experiences. I believe others can really benefit from doing this. Just take it one fear at a time. They don't have to be big things. In fact, to other people they may seem really small, but it is knowing inside that you are not going to let your fears run your life that really makes a difference.
Well, I haven't really talked about technology here, but I think for many people who are afraid of technology, helping them to face those fears could really make a difference. How can we encourage our colleagues and students to face their own fears and take them on?