Before Friday there were no nerves. In fact there were none at all. I was completely nonchalant. Weeks prior, the biggest zit every takes form right in the middle of my left cheek. I don’t have an issue with acne. I haven’t had a facial breakout since I was in high school. I keep looking in the mirror like this cannot be. Thursday night rolls around and I am starting to second guess everything. What if I didn’t pick the right pieces? Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this event at all. What if I fuck up? In the middle of a conversation outta nowhere I start to choke. Once I was able to catch my breath, I had a scratchy irritation on the left side of my throat. I keep thinking, “are you kidding me?!”. What is happening to me? Fear gripped me. It was looking as if fear was physically manifesting itself. The whole day at work on Friday, my throat was becoming more and more irritated. I kept telling myself that I couldn’t cancel no matter what. I knew why I made the decision to participate in the event, to stop being afraid to share my words. The opportunity presented itself and I signed up to do it, PERIOD. There is no turning back. The time ticked along, I’m off work and it’s time for me to prepare for the event.
As soon as I left work, my heart started beating extremely fast. I told myself that it was that good adrenaline. I went to the library up to the 3rd floor to practice. Every time I opened my mouth, the dragon in my throat wanted to make itself known. I sat down and thought, this cannot be happening. I sat up on that floor for an hour, an hour left before the event. I went to the Gallery. One of the coordinators told me they were waiting for people to arrive and if I wanted to do a sound check I could. I looked up at that stage and my mic and breathed in deeply. I walked around the chairs that were set up and my heart starts playing a conga beat in my chest. I immediately sat down. I picked up my iPod, put my buds in, and started searching for the right song. My thumb is moving feverishly around the toggle wheel. I keep repeating in my head, “You can do this”. I tried to visualize ever positive thing I could think of. The toggle wheel landed on Nas, the one song that popped in my head was “One Mic”. I clicked the center button. The beat floods my ears. I tune into the lyrics. I inhale, then exhale. I instantly feel better. I start to relax. My mini-me shows up moments later. I relax some more. I thought to myself, “Okay I’m ready, you got this”. I walked up to the stage, stood at the podium, looked out into the sea of chairs and inhaled. I felt comfortable. I thought I was okay. I took my seat and waited on time. The show was starting. There was a singing duet and three poets. I was one of the poets. I listened to a duet and one poet. During the first poet(and her 30 minutes of poetry) I got up and walked out two times to hit the bathroom. My bladder was becoming overactive. I kept trying to think of anything that would stop the train wreck I felt coming. I checked my face in the mirror and looked into my eyes. I was not okay. I heard my father’s voice telling the younger me how much of a failure I was. I thought to myself maybe I should scream really loud. I decided against it since someone might think I was crazy. I left the bathroom and went back inside the Gallery. After the last of the two poets hit the stage, I knew I was next was no one else. My throat became instantly dry. I started chugging water. I repeated over and over to myself, “YOU GOT THIS”. One of the event coordinator’s approaches the mic, she begins to speak, she looks over at me, and I knew she couldn’t remember how to pronounce my name. The fear inside my chest grew bigger and bigger. My hearing was mute, I faintly hear people clapping. I rise. I make my way to the stage. When I approach the mic I announce to the room, “It’s actually Charron.” People laugh. Now, it begins. The fear physically manifests in my right leg. My right leg slowly but persistently begins a vibrating shake then my left leg joins in. I keep speaking but it was like I could hear the vibration in my voice. I pause say excuse me, take a sip of water and inhale an ice cube. The ice cube is in my mouth. Why is this cube of ice in my mouth? I attempt to speak around the cube of ice. WHY?! The vibration continues and my arms begin to join in. In my head, I hear a voice telling me you cannot get through this. I reach the end of the first piece. I had the overwhelming thought to just run. I took a deep breath and I began the second piece. The shakes continued. Even though the voice was telling me to stop and run. I chose to fight. My lips were still moving. I couldn’t hear how I sounded at that point. I knew that if I didn’t do this I’d be the weak, sensitive, failure that my father had always told me I was. His voice crept into my head for only a moment. My lips kept moving. I felt like my legs where going to give out on me so rather than continue with a three piece I got to the end of the second piece and stopped. I remember saying thank you. The room erupted in applause. There was one lady in the front row, we made eye contact and she mouthed, “good job”. I wanted to cry but I was NOT about to. I got to my seat. In head, I was screaming, “you did it and you are okay”. I was breathing hard. I had a nervous laugh. My mini-me told me, “Mom, it takes curious for anybody to get up and stand in front of a room of people and share something they’re written. You did it. It wasn’t easy but you got through it.” A lady I see everyday told me, “I have never seen you nervous, ever but I was BLOWN away from the first word you said. Oh my god, I had no idea. You wrote all that?!” I didn’t know what she heard. In my head, I heard jumbled vibrations of words. Another lady, stopped me in the gallery room, looked into my eyes and said, “I could tell you were nervous but I felt you in here (as she pointed to her chest). Your voice is powerful like a boom and from the first word, I knew what you were going to say would be amazing and it was amazing.” A man approached me and the refreshment table and said, “Thank you, I appreciate you for having this (I didn’t want to stop and tell him the event wasn’t mine or my idea). Your voice is huge. You made me pay attention. Even with the nerves, I saw you.” Regardless of my HEAD was telling me, this audience saw something completely different. I’m glad I didn’t stop, I’m glad I didn’t run. I know I must grab another mic. Soon. This is the only way I can prove to that small child still living inside me that I am NOT the weak, sensitive, failure that I was told I was. I will not let this fear win. I plan on posting the video as soon as I receive it so I can share it with you all. Most importantly so I can just watch it without judgment so I can see what the audience saw. I didn’t plan on this post being this long but I needed to say every word.