I like to put plastic bags over my head.
I like to pull them down over my eyes, so I can’t see anything but the light that permeates them.
I like to tuck them over my ears so that the only sound I register is blood rushing in my head.
I can feel it thudding in my neck, quick and desperate. Like my heart wants to accomplish a lifetime’s beats before the end, because the animal in my chest is throwing itself against the walls of its cage and begging me to turn back
to walk away
to stand down.
I ignore it.
I can’t breathe, but I walk calmly forwards, and I take my place on the stage.
My audience can’t see the plastic bag. The strangers who came to watch me don’t know that I’m suffocating.
I can’t see their faces, but I can feel them there. Maybe I’m the only one who knows that I’m dying.
I can feel my lips stop moving, and I must’ve stopped talking though I can’t remember when I started.
There’s a roar of sound, but it isn’t blood in my ears. The sound is from the outside.
Cautiously, I pull off the bag and the world is thrown into sharp relief. Color and noise bombard my senses, the sounds of cheering and applause all fighting to make their way into my ears.
I wonder if perhaps I’ve gone to heaven, but then I realize that I haven’t died.
I have gone toe to toe with a beast more terrible than anything I've faced before, the monster just as tangible and just as visible as my plastic bag; but also just as real. I, of my own volition, battled stage fright. And won.
In everyone’s lives , there are things that they love, and things they fear-- things that make them feel like they have plastic bags over their heads.
In my life, it happens to be that those things are one in the same. Most people are afraid of hard work, change, or failure, and are comfortable with being stagnant to maintain normalcy.
But normalcy isn’t what I want. I have learned in my life that without failure there is no learning, without struggle there is no sense of reward.
I want to exceed everyone’s expectations, especially my own. I love the things that scare me, I love having to fight to beat them, and most of all I love finding that I can face the challenge and come out stronger.
I used to have terrible stage fright- it was a struggle to present in class without breaking down, and a joke that I might earn a role in a play although I loved theatre .
Eventually I decided for myself that I couldn’t let my classmates do all the talking , and wouldn’t let my fear of public speaking keep me from doing what I loved .
I practiced and researched and presented, until I realized that public speaking WAS what I loved .
I intentionally put that bag over my head, and I did it again and again until there was no bag, No fear to feel.
Now I’m good at it , and I actively seek out opportunities to speak publicly.
I’ve used the same concept to become the best that I can be at everything in life. I decided that I would stay in an AP class that everyone told me to quit, and putting in the effort earned me a great score. I learned to be a good teammate and player in a sport that I initially was afraid to participate in.
All of the plastic bag moments I faced could have dissuaded me into avoiding new things.
Instead, I chose to let them transform me into a confident, well spoken, well rounded person.
A person who doesn’t shy away from challenges anymore.
Instead, I’m the person who finds them.