Friday, June 10, 2011

Childhood Trauma

The other day I was talking to my closest friends via email about different topics and one topic brought up this memory somewhere in the dark corner of my brain. Being a melancholic/phlegmatic, I never craved for the spotlight. I don't like being in a spotlight. I prefer working in the background, never to be seen or heard (that doesn't mean I don't need recognition or acknowledgment for my achievements, though). That's also one reason why I doubted myself when I first started working at the store 'coz I wondered if I'd enjoy being face-to-face with customers.

When I was very young, I was so sensitive inwards and if I made the smallest mistakes ever, I would scold myself over and over and over. If the mistake was big (at least in my eyes), it could take even days before I finally let go (yep, I'm my own worst critic). Along the road, as my self-confidence grew, I learnt to be more lenient towards myself and lower my expectations, but I only started learning to laugh at my own mistakes AFTER I moved to Finland (yep, it took me 28 years!). Having R2 as a hubby and MIL helped A LOT in learning to be more lenient towards myself. They never criticize me no matter how silly my mistakes are.

Anyhow, back to the dark corner in my brain. I think when I was very young, I once performed in front of a group of people (I think it had to do with dancing) and they laughed at me. I don't remember the incident, but ever since then I've been so worried about performing in front of people and I've always admired people who can perform in front of people without looking so anxious. And ever since then I've always had this idea that I'm such a bad dancer and that my body can't correspond to music and rhythm very well.

Back in elementary school, I hated it when we had to sing in front of the classroom. If I had to sing with some other students, it felt MUCH better, but if I had to sing alone? Ugh ugh...and UGH. I remember clearly the first time at the uni (during writing lesson) when my lecturer gave us a topic to write and then she gave us a few minutes to think about what to write and all of a sudden she asked me to come forward and tell the class what I was going to write (without reading what I had jotted down on paper). I remember that I was very calm at that time, which was such a HUGE surprise to me. I think of that moment as a point of progress in my life.

One of my closest friends, who's a natural when it comes to performing in front of people (she's even led a meeting in front of hundreds of people), was amazed when she realizes that other people may have problems in this area, 'coz she's never had the same problem her entire life.

It's interesting to me to be able to talk about this stuff with my friends 'coz then we get to know each other better - and hopefully then we get to understand other people better that way.


  1. :) I had the same problem too when I was younger ... up till high school. I majored in Business Admin & Marketing when I was in uni and we practically had to stand in front of the whole class doing some sort of presentation every week! Oh my! It did help me a lot though, which was great =)

    I think the more you do it, the easier it becomes ... but then again, personality must have a huge input too. I was very phlegmatic during my childhoo-teenage years. Now I'm more of a sanguine ... weird how personality can change.

  2. @Shinta: I agree that it does help the more you do it, but yeah, that doesn't mean that everybody enjoys doing it hi hi hi...

    My personality stays the same, but I'm much more phlegmatic now compared to my younger years hi hi...

  3. I love this post, Amel. Very well written (and thought out)

  4. @M: Glad you enjoyed reading the post, M! :-D

  5. Learning to laugh at yourself is a great lesson in life. Performing in front of others I think is something most people are not keen on, but talking about fears and accomplishments with others is always good for the soul. X

  6. you really have made progress b/c working at a store when you were in your early 20s would have been a much more threatening situation. It's good to face down your fears. I was always shy around women and it made dating and finding wife very difficult. But at some point things "just clicked" and I became a little better at it.
    We all must be students of life and try to learn as we get already and become wiser as it will make our life better.