Have you gone through life always fearing criticism and judgement?
Thursday morning, my friend Richard was very direct and said to me “I think you have a fear of being judged and of criticism”. My response was, “Yes, I think you’re absolutely right.” Normally when someone tells me something like this, I go quiet and have no response. For once, my response was immediate. Why? No one has ever been that direct with me and “told it like it is.”
I have thought about these fears a lot lately as I have noticed little quirks about myself more. For example, at a tennis lesson, I will do quite well during normal practice. As soon as I am told let’s rally or play a game, I start thinking too much about the outcome and play badly (I need to be like my hero Rafa Nadal and play point by point). In presentations at work, I freeze. I do not know what to say and lose my focus easily. I play my violin quite well at home during practice but as soon as I am in front of the instructor I don’t do so well. I am always saying “Sorry”; even for things I should not. Apologizing for who you are is not a way of life.
Plain and simple…three things are going wrong.
1. I overthink things.
2. I focus on the outcome instead of how to get there.
3. I need to relax, stop stressing and just be myself.
Fears aside, Thursday was an interesting day overall. For lunch, my friend Richard and I hit up Salad King on Yonge St in Downtown Toronto. All I have to say is MILD IS NOT MILD!!!!! Here’s their spicy scale:
I had the Thai Basil Noodles and my mouth was on fire! I couldn’t finish it! I am not a wuss either, my mother is from the Caribbean and I am used to heat in food. It was so spicy, I felt I was coughing up a Thai pepper on my way to Yogen Fruz at the Eaton Centre. I took my first spoonful of raspberry Yogen Fruz and felt the fire of Mount St Helen was finally out! I swear there was steam coming out of my ears. Richard had a good laugh at this….and at the fact that through the entire meal I was worried about splattering my meal on my silk shirt. He would nonchalantly say: “You’re fine, you’re fine” and “No one will see it” (fear of judgement and criticism anyone? How do I make it through a day?).
Aside from the spiciness factor, I must say that Salad King is a really cool place to eat at. I have never been to a restaurant that has “communal dining” it was a very interesting experience. I noticed that like typical Torontonians we all ignore each other. The exception was Richard, who immediately knew someone there and was waving at them as soon as we were seated (Richard, I swear you know everyone in the GTA!!!). The one good thing about the meal was the Crispy Spring rolls, they are fantastic! Everyone that goes there appears to order them. Next time, I will opt for a dish that has no chili peppers beside it on the menu! I am thinking Green Mango Salad next time…yummmm!
In the evening, I went to my Dale Carnegie course. In this session, we were to come prepared to share a defining moment in our life; a specific incident from our career or personal life. We had two minutes to relate our story and how the incident helped shape who we are today.
My story took me back to high school; back to the days where rumors of a fight would circulate throughout the day and at the 3PM bell, everyone would flock outside. Two of the meanest girls in school had decided to bully my good friend; and by association, myself as well. Just outside of school, they blocked our path, spit on my friend and refused to let us pass. One of the girls decided she would have a stare down with me. On this day, it was a big mistake for her. After years of being bullied in elementary school, I summoned all the courage I had from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head and stared her right in her eyes. Every bit of strength she stared at me with, I stared back with twice as much – I don’t even remember blinking! All around us were the other kids screaming “Fight, fight, fight!!!” I remember hearing one kid over my shoulder shout to this girl, “Kick her with your boots!” (she was wearing very pointy cowboy boots – to me, this was not a nice prospect to be kicked). We kept fiercely staring at each other, adrenalin flaring, waiting to see who would back down first. Finally, she backed down, turned, and walked away. I couldn’t believe it! There were so many emotions going through me! I was relieved, happy for my friend that they just may leave her alone, and a new, strong belief in myself. I was now able to believe again; that I could summon the courage to stand up for others, what I believe in and have the power to not physically fight (I never have and never would). I learned that disputes could be solved without a fist fight.
Thursday’s events had me deep in introspection. As Plato once said, “why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?” I asked myself, How can I get over years of the fear of being judged and worrying about other people’s criticism? The bigger and more important question, why am I afraid to show people the real me?
I leave you with this thought: here’s to conquering the fears of self and to great friends, without them we would never be able to see who we really are.