Teaching Opinion

Five Minutes Until Show Time, and I’d Like to Throw Up

By Starr Sackstein — July 25, 2019 2 min read
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It’s 7:45, and I’m set to go on shortly.

Nervously, I scan the room looking for engagement. My stomach is in knots. My hands are clammy. Oh my God, I’m going to throw up.

Some people thrive on being in front of a crowd, but I am not one of those people.

I’ll admit that it has gotten a little easier over the years, but the anxiety of being in front of a crowd used to be debilitating. Now, it’s a bit uncomfortable, and my resolve about sharing an important message outweighs the discomfort.

Ironically, as educators, we are on stage every day.

When I was in the classroom, I used to have dreams/nightmares a month before school started and got nervous about meeting my students every first day of school. If I had to give a PD, even for my colleagues, I’d sweat that, too.

It wasn’t because I didn’t know the material or I was unprepared in any way, it was because I was woefully afraid of disappointing those who were eager to learn. It’s a big responsibility teaching, and I take it really seriously.

That and I had crippling anxiety for many years that stemmed from deep-rooted issues with perfectionism that had the potential to ruin life’s many exciting experiences.

As I’ve progressed in my career, and in my life as a parent, teacher, and leader, I’ve developed skills to make speaking/presenting easier. Perhaps I’m even getting to a place where it doesn’t make sense to define myself with the anxiety that once kept me from integrating with new people easily.

In my current educational role, I’m around new people a lot. In order to do my job well, I have to integrate and open up quickly. Although this isn’t completely natural for me when I’m around “my people” i.e., other educators, it’s a little easier.

As learners, we need to continually push ourselves out of our comfort zone, and this work does just that. I strongly believe in the message I share about empowering all learners by shifting instructional and assessment practices. And because of my commitment to the work, I push through my discomfort, anxiety, nausea, and share.

Since I’ve become a blogger and speaker, I’ve been exposed to more people and I see the impact of my sharing. Deeply embedded in the role of an educator is that need to help, and folks have shared how much the work has helped.

So, anxiety can control our lives, but if we allow that to happen, then we miss out on so many rich opportunities.

What risks have you taken that have made an impact? How did it make you feel to take the risk? How did you overcome your discomfort? Please share

*photos courtesy of Starr Sackstein

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