I was always one of those kids who wanted to stand out. No matter what the occasion, I wanted people to take notice of me. We moved around a lot when I was younger so making friends became difficult the older I got. I had a few close friends but my circle was small. Once I hit high school though I had become painfully shy, and many of those in my class actually thought I was a snob because I didn’t talk to too many people. Needless to say high school was not a fun time for me.
Going through university and subsequently in my first few jobs, not much changed. I was still quite shy especially around new people. But underneath there was a young girl who just wanted to stand out and be noticed.
It wasn’t until I decided to change careers that life took a different turn for me. Moving into the Recreation and Fitness industry had its bumps and challenges for me, especially teaching. I’d always hated public speaking to the point of avoiding it wherever possible. Writing was always my thing. But when your boss calls in sick and you’re now having to teach a fitness class in a college triple gymnasium for 40 people you don’t know for the first time, what choice do you have. Stephen King had nothing on the terror I felt that day.
I had 2 hours to prepare a class. I had none of my own music prepared, no choreography planned and not much time to create it. Thankfully she had a tape cassette (you remember those right) in the office that I borrowed and played for the next hour to figure out what I was going to do.
Fast forward to class time, here I was watching all these staff and students come in to the gym for my class, and boy was I nervous. “Shaking in my boots” took on a whole new meaning that day. Here I was, a very shy young woman who didn’t want to speak in public, standing in front of 40+ people ready to teach a fitness class. If you’ve ever watched Don Knotts in the ‘Shakiest Gun in the West’ movie, that was me or at least how I felt.
As I started the music and looked around, I froze for a second and then I met my friends eyes, smiling at me. He was so encouraging with his smile that it made me feel like I could do anything. So I began to teach and every few minutes when I felt that panic creep back in, I would look at him and his smile kept me going. Forty-five minutes had never felt so long before, but when it was all over, I had never felt so much relief.
Then to my surprise, everyone was saying thank you and how much they enjoyed the class. It gave me the much needed boost of confidence I needed to continue to the next class and the one after that and the one after that and so on.
I was never so grateful to my boss that day for calling in sick. Unbeknownst to her, she gave me the greatest gift and one of my greatest achievements, confidence. Almost 30 years later, that young woman is still teaching and not afraid to speak in public any longer. I have so much fun now working with the public in my recreation centre that I can’t imagine my life any other way. So I say Thank You Raylene for being sick and pushing me to step way out of my comfort zone and giving me an accomplishment I don’t think I could have had without you. Do you have someone who has given you that little extra push to succeed? Maybe you didn’t know it at the time but I bet if you thought about it, you would find that person or time of your life when it happened.
Sources for photos:
Shy girl: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-blue-striped-flannel-shirt-holding-a-book-indoors-698928/
Man on top of the mountain : https://www.pexels.com/photo/achievement-confident-free-freedom-6945/