By K Gitanjali
Even as she yearned to be center stage, being backstage brought out an unexpected dimension to her personality, found K Geethanjali
I have always suffered from stage fear and lack of self-esteem. Ever since I started working on myself, I realized it was a shadow that I needed to heal. Therefore, I worked on the shadow a great deal with meditations, affirmations, looking into the mirror, and telling myself I loved myself. I have always felt ‘less than,’ a shift that happened when I entered my adolescence and continues to this day. It did not help that while I was a teenager trying to find myself, a favorite teacher of mine felt that I was too big for my boots, and decided it was her duty to bring me down a peg or two. The result? By the time I passed out of school, I was the kind of person who would try to hide herself, a wallflower at every social function.
I changed radically from a spontaneous child who was full of herself, and who had no qualms of running onto the stage to take part in competitions, to a person paralyzed with stage fear.
This became difficult for me. An English teacher is often expected to anchor programs, or make announcements on stage, and here I was paralyzed with fear. Deep in my mind simmered a coal of anger directed at my teacher who had wounded my psyche.
Recently as the Annual Day of our school loomed near, there was a need for an anchor and of course, I opted out. Another teacher was chosen and as she anchored the show during the rehearsal, I thought, “If I had not been paralyzed with fear, I would have been standing there on stage anchoring the whole program, instead of sweating it out backstage.”
“I really have lost out a lot in life because of my stage fear!” I confided in a colleague as I herded a group of ‘birds’ and ‘flowers’ onto the stage and she agreed with me.
That afternoon the colleague who was anchoring the show approached me for help in editing some of her material. As I helped her with her notes, it came to me quietly but clearly. “That is why I have taken on this shadow. It is because what I need to focus on now is not to ‘do,’ to stand in the limelight and show off my talents in the external world. Perhaps I had been there, and done that in many other lifetimes. What I had chosen to do this lifetime was to ‘be’ behind the scenes. To focus on expressing what I was internally. Be the support for people who needed help, and trusted in me to supply it. Be the compassion, which sees others’ anxiety, and helps them tide over it. Be the voice of confidence, which tells another, “You can do it.” Perhaps if I had been a confident strapping personality, the external distraction would have muffled down my soul’s plan of working behind the scenes.
The anchor did a spectacular job on the day of the show. As the actors took their final bow, all of us marveled at the people on stage, and all that had gone into making the show a success. It included the boys in charge of the mikes and lighting, the workmen who had added their bit, the ayahs taking care of the children, the writer of the script, the director, and many others, people who may never come on stage, but whose effort is needed to put together any show.
I had always wondered what karma had made me take on the load of lack of self-esteem, but with the insight that every little thing has its place in the scheme of things, a shift has occurred in my consciousness. I am not only able to accept my lack of confidence, but also be thankful for it at a deep level. It is because of it that I can express various finer qualities of being. Now that I am grateful for it and accepting, I have stopped wondering why I took it on. I now know that I took on this poor self-image, so that I could find complete acceptance of any place my soul chooses to place itself in this lifetime. The teacher I blamed all these years as responsible for my plight, now really became a ‘teacher,’ who had come into my life to play the part, which the universe had scripted for her in my life, so that I could learn my lesson. With this knowledge, the simmering coal of anger has been extinguished.
Will I ever become a confident speaker who can take on the stage? I really do not know, and I do not care. I know that if it is my soul’s plan it will happen. However, if my higher self wants me to work behind the scenes, so be it. In being okay with it and letting go of all blame of others and myself, I know that my healing has begun.
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