Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sophophobia- Fear of learning: Etiquette

This is something I actually wrote several months ago:



As time goes on, it seems that more and more classes are becoming available to students eager to learn, progress, and boast impressive highschool transcripts. The opportunities nowadays are astounding: advanced placement classes, higher level math and science classes, and so on. However, there seems to be an ever growing trend at the same time, one that is highly disturbing. People seem to have forgotten almost completely the basic etiquette that bound us not so very long ago. The self-centeredness is borderline childlike, immature in the extreme. Moreover, many do not seem to realize when they are being rude until someone who does remember the old etiquette points it out. I am guilty of poor etiquette myself; indeed, I am cursed with the embarrassment that seems to be a constant in my generation when we are confronted with situations that require etiquette, such as merely knowing when to say "please" or "thank you". Of course, this lack of manners is something that can and will be detrimental in the long run, as it will affect our relationship with others, including our superiors in the job industry. It is the goal of schools to prepare their students for the real world, to provide them with the capability of being full-fledged citizens in society. Therefore, as a training in etiquette could only aid in this education, it ought to be a mandatory course.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sociophobia

A recent poll discovered that 40% of adults are terrified of public speaking. In fact, comedian Jerry Seinfeld once quipped that, at a funeral, most people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.

Few of you may remember this, but throughout the majority of my life, I suffered a slight stutter. I often had trouble putting my thoughts into words at a conversational pace, leading to a lot of "um...a-ands...no wait...a-and then I uh..."'s. I enjoyed reading and drawing, but these activities left little room for social interaction, which led me to becoming sort of a self-made loner.

As I was (am) enrolled in the Theocratic Ministy School in my congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, I did on occasion have to speak in front of large groups of people. When I started out, I wasn't nervous at all, but as I entered my preteen years, I became filled with anxiety. Still, I would get complimented afterwards. I liked this, but as I was--again--slightly socially awkward, I had difficulty accepting compliments.

I recall a time in 6th grade when I had to give an oral report on the history of Italian art. I had focused so completely on the written part of my report, that I hadn't really prepared. I had frantically written out a page of information, but once I got up there, I was so focused on my audience eye-contact that I couldn't bring myself to glance at the page. I just rattled off information that I wasn't aware was in my brain and ended up getting an "A". This event served as a turning point in my attitude towards public speaking, but it did not make me want to do it any more.

I was homeschooled in 7th grade. Needless to say, this did not do much in the way of improving my social skills. When I went back to 8th grade, I was so depressed about not fitting in, due to my lost year and social awkwardness, that I became a tremendous introvert. I had few friends, and none very close.

I entered highschool hoping to start anew, make a fresh start. I did this to a certain extent, as I found a lot more people who shared my interests than could be found in my tiny junior high, but I couldn't completely get over this slight fear of social interaction. I was in the school band, but I didn't even completely fit in there.

One day, there was a boy in my English class who was trying to promote a play he was in. Nobody seemed very enthusiastic about it, and I felt sorry for him, so I went to the last showing. It was in the cafeteria, on the tiny old stage that we used before the Performing Arts Center was finished, but by the end I had found a new love. Despite my fears, I knew that I wanted to be a part of something like this somehow. I actually kindof forgot about this, until the next year when I was getting an "F" in participation in my Spanish class. I realized that something had to be done about my fear of speaking to others, so I enrolled myself in the Drama 1 class. This was something which would force me to do what I found the most difficult. My teacher, Mr. Holcomb, taught me to get over myself, which I found to be a truly invaluable lesson.

Since then, I have been in 2 Drama 2 classes, played Leonato in "Much Ado About Nothing", Betty Meeks in "The Foreigner", Clementine in "The Paper Bag Bandit", and was cast in 2 other plays. There are two pages about "The Foreigner" in the yearbook, and I still get people coming up to me and asking me if I was that hilarious old lady in the play. Recently, my Drama 2 teacher asked the class to tell him why we act. Some students had reasons such as the fact that they liked being someone else for a time, or that they just enjoyed performing. I told him what I had realized only the day before speaking with a classmate, that acting is the only time when I don't feel socially awkward. One kid high-fived me on that, and my teacher, Mr. Johnson, said that that is actually something that's true, that acting is sometimes an outlet for those who have difficulty interacting with others in real life.

So basically, I'm wierd. But I've gotten better. Acting and the Theocratic Ministry School (without which I never would have known the basics of public speaking that made me stand out from the crowd at school) have given me the confidence to reach out in my real life. The fact that I am no longer one of those who are afraid of public speaking (kindof) has contributed to the ever continuing effort to eradicate my sociophobia.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Kainotophobia

Kainotophobia: The fear of change. See: Senioritis.

Do I have it? Oh, my yes. Is it contagious? It just may be.

You see, at the age of 18, my life experience is bordering on nil. I don't feel prepared to leave this place they call a school. I believe they call that Stockholme's Syndrome? Anyway, I have merely one Senior Project speech standing between me and graduation. It's as though I've been running hard for the finish line, and now that I can see it, I'm grinding my heels into the dirt and screeching to a desperate hault. The only cure I can see at this time is just that--time. Someone shoving that cap on my head and that diploma in my hand. I should say that crooked, tassle-free cap, as my sister saw fit to put it and my gown in the dryer, which my mother neglected to see. Cardboard irons, right?

My point is, it may not be a good idea to talk to me right now if you are currently working on any goals, as I may not be filled with any advice conducive to that end. My other point is that I'm tired, and therefore done writing this blog, which I was only doing to kill time instead of doing my homework.