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Fluorescent Lights of the Fight

The power of influence has been on my mind. I just read a SOL of a friend who wrote about Ridicule.  Here it goes. At first, I felt disheartened. Why would this person feel this way? Did someone say something hurtful about them? Oh no they didn’t. You know when your equilibrium is shaken unsuspectedly? One of those moments when you’re flying high, all sunshine and lollipops, and in an instant life’s disco magic suddenly flashes to fluorescent lights, leaving you vulnerably aware, frozen mid Roger Rabbit [insert dance move you’re familiar with here: Running man? The Hustle? The Robot? Etc.] on the dance floor? You’re feeling the music all cozy in the sanctity of the dark; letting go in all your magnificently awkward, confident and unabashed glory, when- Boom– Lights blast on and you know the partys over. Of course you do.  

I came home from a night class tonight. An eight week educational research class that I have repeatedly conveyed to friends as, sucking the life out life out of me, or on even more desolate  days, to be bleeding my soul dry. Done. All done. Not with ease, but still. Done. I had a ridiculously long paper to write up and present to the class tonight. Going on about three hours of sleep, I knew that presentation wasn’t going to go smoothly. See, while I always felt comfortable behind the safe blanket of writing, revision, and publishing, public speaking has been my vulnerable area of fluorescent lights. I walked in to, of course, the fluorescent light flooded classroom and sat down. Waiting my turn to present my piddly, embarrassing excuse for a power point that I drafted in all but a half hour, I finally submitted and volunteered to go- just get it over with already. I stood up with weeks of painstakingly analyzed research all nestled in the safe confines of my brain and I let it fly. Eight timed minutes, roughly fifteen, “ums,” and ten flips of sloppy notes later, I was done. My colleagues laughed.  My nervousness does that sometimes, signals sympathetic reassurance and laughter from onlookers.  My professor told me, “Great job.” I sat back down, relieved.

I’m not really that nervous to get up in front of crowds at this point in my life. When duty calls, in which ever capacity, I can step up. But it hasn’t always been that way. I remember at nineteen during a World Religions course stopping mid presentation because I was going into a panic attack, “ I have to sit down now,” I remember stating to the class, their facial expression slowly transforming from Haha, she’s nervous. She’s not serious…to an awkward… Oh. She’s sitting down. She’s serious. Awkward city. Countless other times… when I stood and blabbered on and on… with um’s and uhs, mingled with awkward silences and nervous giggles. Disasters.  

Tonight was a slight flashback of those days. Not nearly as bad, but still, my mind had brushed elbows awkwardly with an ex that I thought I had left behind.

After reading my friend’s post, I felt impacted. I dropped down in my oversized chair and fired up the lap top. While waiting for it to fire up, I picked up a stack of books, which sat on the arm. Opening up the book that sat aimlessly on the top of the disheveled mess, my eyes came directly to this quote,

“The professional keeps his eye on the donut, and not on the hole. He reminds himself that it is better to be in the arena, being stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands, or in the parking lot.”

What is the ridicule and banter of the people in the stands to the rush and adrenaline of the bull? Nothing. To put yourself out there, vulnerable to failure, susceptible to being gored by the stares or the comments or the ridicule, is far more brave and far more creditable than never setting foot in the ring. Furthermore, to voluntarily put yourself in the ring, after being bruised and beaten by the bull, in an effort to overthrow the beast that is your vulnerability, is respectably the greatest attribute of the victor.

There will always be an audience. There will always be opinions. Be the player. Be the dancer that keeps rocking the Roger Rabbit [insert familiar dance move] even after the fluorescent lights go on. Be the awkward speaker that keeps putting herself up there in front of scrutinizing eyes. It’s not easy. If it were, there would be a stampede from the stands. As it is, you are the bullfighter, girl. Stay in the ring and do your thing.


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4 replies

  1. Powerful!! “As it is, you are the bullfighter, girl. Stay in the ring and do your thing.” This called to me. Every time I think to give up, or give in, or slink away and I don’t, I could never figure out why. This is why. You have named why so many of us keep fighting, standing, moving forward, overcoming ridicule. I love this!!!

  2. The fluorescent lights, so often, happens to be our own brain. Keep dancing! Smiling! Never giving up! Writing…what a great way to relax after an exhausting class.

  3. Did you bring the Art of War to class? I feel like I’ve read that quote. Some good friend of mine referred to it so often and with such confidence that I just had to get it myself, oh about 3 grad classes ago. Not sure if it’s the one but am sure that I do get to see you and your awkward bird in action some days (see you in a bit) and you do have an audience just riveted albiet fidgeting and spacing out. 🙂

    Who hoo finally done!!! I hated your class too!!!

  4. Beautifully said. I think I’ve become the kid who fakes a cramp to get out of presenting in front of people. I’m all too comfortable with being comfortable. And that ain’t good. I loved the pacing of this piece and the foreground/background shifts and feel like I need to step up my game a little after reading this. So thanks.

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