What? Me, Worry?

This week we are supposed to talk about a time when we acted bravely when, in actuality, we were frightened. For me it will be easy. When have I acted bravely when I was really frightened? All the time.
I was a terribly shy child, add a difficult name and a tendency to be ill and you have the makings of an introvert, which I was…and most people won’t believe that I still am.
Oh, I am much better; I had to be better; I was nearly paranoid. I had nowhere to go but up, and still, some phone calls are hard for me to make; they shouldn’t be. Some encounters are only accomplished after several false starts; and I procrastinate about submitting or resubmitting works. I have trouble asking for things, even what is due to me sometimes. Yet, I need to do them, and I do.
Going to the doctor is still a nightmare for me, but I try not to show it.

But in the past, every room of people I entered, be it classroom or home, took every bit of courage I had.
I was an A student, but I suffered over every paper I did.
I am still not sure how I got through applying and interviewing for my first job, but they liked me and I ended up doing well, even when dealing with customers, which I also did well, exuding confidence when I wanted to run away.
I had several jobs that I loved, but as confident as I was in my abilities, it was a terrible moment when I turned on the ‘Open’ sign and unlocked the door of my bakery/restaurant the first time, but I was right there, smiling at customers.

Standing in front of a class or doing a talk somewhere is an exercise in self control and acting ability; I usually darn near faint when I look out at a crowd that is looking at me. And they are looking at me, acting bravely.

I got a sudden jolt of confidence when I was a young woman. I had admired those who could enter a roomful of people and enter into conversations until I suddenly found myself doing exactly that. I don’t know how that happened, but it did.

And yet I have slipped. I found a cousin’s number years ago and when I did get the courage to call him, I found that his father, my oldest uncle, had died a short time before; I could have spoken with him. At least when I did call, I found that our youngest aunt is still with us, and we are in contact, as I now am with most of the cousins…and it is wonderful. Even though I put some of those calls off, too. Why? Shy. When I made them, I was frightened, but acted confident.

I am sitting here with two emails which I wrote months ago and was long overdue. I need to send them. I need to take articles I foolishly handed over in totality to publishers who promised to use them, and have not …and I need to resubmit them elsewhere, which, of course, I have not. And there are more. Why the trepidation, since I have had that feeling before and mailed them out anyway. Every weigh-in at the post office, every email to an editor, every on-line submission are done only after I have talked myself into doing them, but I have, although usually scared about them. And they never suspect.It was hard for me to agree to become your Friday Fox, as much as I wanted to.It took Jillian’s confidence in me to ask me that spurred me to do my own blog which I had put off for too long.Yet,I came into both with false bravado.(I am confident for the most part, thanks everyone!)

I had a few unfortunate encounters with a relative who had a couple of psychotic episodes. I had a couple of unfortunate strangers who needed to be talked-down from dangerous situations, and yet ,I acted calmly. Notice I didn’t say, “remained calm”. And then there was my son who liked to hit this head when he was very young. I was often in the E.R., keeping him calm, trying not to lose it myself. (Who calms the moms?) Once when my other son was a young teenager he was 1,000 miles away at a Scout camp. When I came home from work, my husband handed me the phone and a number on a paper. Our son had not felt well when he flew out and he was now in the infirmary with Scarlet fever. I called him, we spoke. I promised I call the next day and every day. He was well cared-for and we both seemed brave. I hung up the phone and sobbed. I don’t know how frightened he was. He still claims that he was cool.
And that is the one who is out in the middle of nowhere fighting forest fires right now. I am calm when we speak, but I don’t feel that way. I don’t know if I can describe what it took to sound light-hearted when speaking with Mr.Bumped-head when he was grown-up and at war in Iraq, or when he had a serious auto accident, or had suspected bone cancer, (which, thank God, was benign.) I was scared sick each time, but had to stay calm for him.

I have been seriously injured and I’ve had surgeries, yet the docs and nurses always say that I have been brave; little do they know.

You don’t even want to know how scared I was the first time I drove into traffic, yet my driving instructor took me onto a major highway right away because I was “doing so well”.. If he only knew! The only thing that was worse was the first time I sat in the passenger seat and let my sons behind the wheel for the first time. Both times I was near panic. (One drove badly; I panicked many times.)
However, I managed to remain outwardly calm. They will never know how much I trembled inside, how much I wanted to bolt and stop the world at that point!

Can any of you relate to any of the above? Have you had to stay calm for a loved one in danger? Have you taught a teen to drive? I dare you to tell me that you weren’t frightened, even if no one ever suspected.


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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12 Responses to What? Me, Worry?

  1. jeff7salter says:

    I can definitely relate, Tonette. Though the specifics are not the same, I have felt many of the same feelings. Shyness, insecurities, procrastination, fear.
    Often I’ve been able to cope my way through such situations, but (on plenty of occasions) I have wimped-out. I usually regret those and cannot seem to forget them.
    Your account above is a chart of challenges met and conquered … notwithstanding whatever fears you FELT inside. The definition of courage is being afraid but going ahead with your duty anyway. That seems to summarize most of the experiences you relate here.


    • Thanks ,Jeff.I can’t tell you how many things I used to wimp out on.It has the opposite effect we expected, huh? We thought it would take care of the problem, and it only made them worse. Regret; it’s a terrible thing.


  2. pjharjo says:

    I never taught any of my children to drive, (the former husband did that) What I DID have in common with you, were my two sons who were both at war in the Middle East at the same time. Like you, I remained calm (on the outside), the only reason I did not become a basket case during that time is I kept my self busy and did not allow myself to dwell on it. I guess you could say I was frightened, but in denial. One of my boys is a Blackhawk pilot; he told me when I worried to him, “Mom, I’m safer in the air than I am on the ground.” I took that to bed with me each night.

    One time I was frightened, which I did think of while I read your blog (I don’t know why), and I did NOT think of when I wrote my Tuesday blog, happened in my youth. I grew up in the countryside of southern OR and I had horses. 🙂 I can now remember the time my mare foaled a colt (male). and when he reached the proper age, I decided I would train him. Not “break.” (I’ve always hated the idea of breaking a horse’s spirit.) Though I had worked with him regularly since his birth, it still took a big swallow of courage the first time I climbed up on my young stallion’s back! He was a perfect Gentleman during our ride. 🙂 I KNOW that is bc I took the time to “train” and not “break “him.


    • Congratulations! It takes a great deal of patience to work with an animal properly.As you know, they will tell you that it is ‘”impossible”.I did “the impossible”, too; I have taken totally feral cats and made them house pets.Al it takes is patience, attention and love.


  3. Carol Todd says:

    My whole life is a story of overcoming reticence due to fear, I guess. Although now, fear in my life is restricted to only certain things…because I have opted not to worry. Worry used to eat up my time and my nervous system to the point that I was almost non-functional. The old expression, “Don’t borrow trouble,” pretty much describes my mantra. Another thing I’ve noticed is that, while I was a true pessimist when I was young, as I’ve grown older (not old! hah!) I have become pretty much an optimist. I usually expect things to turn out well, or at least the way I’d like them to, and I expect people to do their best, and to behave in the way you would want them to. Of course, I am sometimes disappointed – aren’t we all? So – when am I brave? Every day that I have to face without my parents takes courage, not because I physically need them, but because of the emotional hole their passing has left. Of course, they had long, good lives, but I would have asked for just a few more years, or to borrow someone’s title, “For One More Day.” I learned to scuba dive many years ago and became a certified diver. Facing that process required every ounce of courage I had. I don’t dive any more, because, well, I have ‘been there, done that,” and haven’t enough courage to endure the claustrophobia the mask and gear causes when I’m down under the water. However, I am very pleased that I was able to not only get the certification, but afterwards, on my own, make a number of dives. For me, that was huge. Now, my big challenge is martial arts. I studied Tae Kwon Do for years and earned my first degree black belt. Those belt tests in front of the high ranked folks were scary. Especially scary, when I had to be tested without a few fellow students, in front of a room full of people! Now, I study aikido, another martial art. I have advanced just over half the way to first degree black belt (sandan rank). I chose aikido partially because I was scared (I still am, by the way) – aikido involves a lot of acrobatic type moves, including rolls and falling. Those are two things which have always terrified me, especially rolls (think somersaults, although aikido rolls are not quite like that). I’m still learning – but I’m getting there, and I expect soon I will be able to perform at least some of those skills far better than when I started. Each class is a bit of a challenge, when those knots in the pit of my stomach arise, but I’ve learned to just ignore them and concentrate on the moves. By facing the fears I have, courage is slowly building up. Aikido is a wonderful martial art to build confidence, anyway, so I figure I’m getting benefit regardless. As some of you said, I’ve also dealt with shyness, procrastination, etc. I guess these are problems common to all.

    This was a great idea, Tonette. Thanks for posting it. Sorry to run on so long!


    • Never a problem,Carol…we wait for people to come and share! Glad you jumped in and glad that you. too , have over-come crippling shyness and fear.I don’t think confident people know how brave we need to make ourselves be just to do what they take in stride.
      When we try, whether we fail or accomplish what we attempted, then we win.
      May you have peace!
      Thanks for joining us.


    • jeff7salter says:

      I’m surprised to learn, Carol, that you had to cope with fears and insecurities, because back during the brief period that I knew you — mostly thru my brother, but also with some direct contact — you always seemed quite confident and secure. Funny how people are able to function without “letting on” to others!
      The Aikido that you’re taking sounds like it would also have terrific cardio-vascular benefit, especially for those of us Boomers who may otherwise lack some of the flexibility and endurance that we can all remember.


  4. Iris B says:

    Who knew? I always had this pic of you as very confident! I know exactly how you feel … been there done that. every time I’ve gotta do something out of my comfort zone I stress to the max … that’s why I challenge myself so often … talking behind the mic is fun, as long as I pretend nobody’s listening!
    Interesting post, Tonette, and I’ve learned a little bit more about you 🙂


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