Saturday, December 18, 2010
Having to Face Your Fear
For starters, there's nothing more that I've grown to dislike more than making a presentation or speech. I remember I was totally fine with it back when I was a freshman, but it's just gotten worse and worse over the years. Now the very thought of doing them grips me with such fear that it paralyzes me.
Monday we had an exam. Tuesday and Thursday were our speech days. We've been working on preparing for our speeches all semester. The directions said we were supposed to use memos or flashcards or something small like that, so I tried to look for flashcards at Sunkus on Monday night. I couldn't find them, so I went and asked one of the people working there. I tried to explain to him what I was looking for, and eventually he just gave up and got one of the other guys working there, whom I guess is studying English. He came over and when I said "flashcards" he thought I meant flash drive. I tried to explain to him what I meant, in Japanese, and he tried to explain to me in some weird broken English and Japanese mix that what I saw before me was all they had. Oh well. I bought this little memo-like thing instead as a replacement.
A funny thing happened right before I left though. I bought pasta for dinner and he asked me, "Want renji up?" Denshi-renji is microwave in Japanese, so that was his way of asking if I wanted them to heat up my dinner. I had a good laugh about that later.
After I ate, I wrote my speech into the memo book I bought. I made sure to space out so that I could read through it easily in the case that I forgot what I was going to say or where exactly it was. Turns out that writing my speech into the memo book was a bit unnecessary though. Pretty much everyone was just reading off of scripts they had typed up and printed out.
Tuesday morning came. I got there a bit late, but almost immediately I started panicking. I came in in the middle of M's speech, and behind her I saw my name written on the white-board. I just blanked out. By the time K was up for her speech, I just started choking back tears, but I couldn't make it through to the end of the speech and ended up getting up halfway through and running out the door with my Totoro handkerchief covering my face. I ran upstairs to the girls' bathroom. I knew I was the only one there when I went in since the lights flickered on as I opened the door. I plopped myself down on the ground and started crying, having a small panic attack.
Luckily no one came in, though I was afraid that someone would, so I tried to get myself back together as quickly as I could. I went back to the classroom and just sat outside the door. As I listened to my classmates' speeches from there, my mind was racing, debating on what the right choice of action would be from then on. I ended up leaving and going outside, but then I realized I had no clue where I could find the counseling office. Not like they would have been much good anyway since I've never been there before and don't know anything about me.
Eventually I ended up heading back. After listening to a few more speeches, my teacher popped her head outside, checking to see if I was there now. She rushed over and was a lot more sympathetic than I thought she would be. My class is under the opinion that she is the angry type of middle-aged Japanese woman. In fact, I found her to be more sympathetic than my other teacher, whom everyone likes more. She told me it wasn't that important of a thing, that I can try it on Thursday but don't have to do it if I don't want to.
I listened to the last and final speech that day in the classroom, with everyone asking me if I was okay after. I was feeling pretty miserable at that point and wanted to go home, but I stayed and headed to my next class anyway. Luckily I only have two classes a day when I do have classes.
Wednesday night I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned the entire night.
When I got to class on Thursday I was pretty nervous and talked to my (other) teacher when she arrived. She asked if I wanted to go first or last. I agreed to go first. I asked if I could read off my script and she said I'd lose points for doing that. Oh well, it was only 5% of my total grade in a pass or fail course.
It's probably a good thing I agreed to go first. I think if I had waited and gone last I would've freaked out again. I felt like I nearly fainted by the time I got to the end of my speech, and I know I looked down a lot at my script. My head felt hot and dizzy, and all I wanted to do was sit down when people started asking me questions, as was part of our assignment as the audience to make sure we were paying proper attention.
One of my classmates actually asked why I didn't mention Christmas cakes. Seriously?! I told him my family bakes a cake every year to celebrate Jesus' birthday so that's why I hadn't thought of it. But because of that, I think the students from other countries in my class have the opinion that all Americans do this now. I had to explain to one of my new-found friends from the class that that was not the case.
I know I wasn't the only one who nervous about giving their speech.
I really don't think that forcing us into such stressful and nerve-wrecking situations like giving speeches is a good way to help us learn a language.