“Anisha, are you interested to do the subject+? I believe, you can do it!” Yes, with the bunch of clipped papers comprising long paragraphs in all the pages, I still remember the voice of my English teacher who gave me a chance to do subject+ motivational talk on the occasion of Infini day.

Subject+ is an initiative taken by my school which provides opportunities to students from my school to give motivational talk to students of other schools. The speech is of at least an hour duration and so it was divided between two students. I accepted to do the 2nd block. After going through that paper, it made me realize this was the thing that every year a pair of speakers will speak on November 11 in our school and outside school to another set of students. Additionally, my sister also got this opportunity once during her twelfth grade.

So, after getting back from school, I spoke about this to my sister, hearing this, she was delighted. She encouraged me to not let go of this opportunity and insisted me to be a part of it since I have never given a speech ever before.

I imagined myself doing that talk in front of an audience and felt a sense of pride within myself. Then, slowly I began to practice.

After imagining things like these, suddenly a question started to lurk in my mind. “How can an introvert like me do this?”. Here is where my story begins. I used to have stage fear and would also find it extremely difficult to have conversation with common people, sometimes even to my own friends. From UKG to 10th standard, people at my school never paid huge attention to me since I was always silent. I was not the naughtiest and didn’t create any fuss like many kids would. While coming to my adolescent stage, my schoolteachers and seniors always used to ask frequent questions like “Do you have a sister?”, “Hey! Aren’t you Ashika’s sister?”, “Is Ashika your sister?”. I used to reply in one word “YES” and sometimes I would just nod my head. I used to stay within my boundary and never really indulged in other’s stuffs.

My classmates knew me only as a silent girl, but not the real me which I wished to be around them. Even my teachers used to compare me with my sister, as she was bright and socialized with everyone whereas I stayed in one place and this comparison really made me vexed, but surprisingly it was useful for me to grow in future.

So my life for the past 10 years has been something like this – I buckled up to sit in the roller coaster seat and faced all the ups and downs of ride in my life, I never had friends who stayed with me for a longer period, every year it kept changing and also, I didn’t have the right circle of friends.

During 10th std, I came to know that my English teacher was my class teacher instead of my Social teacher who was there temporarily during the initial days of 10th grade. It really went well experiencing my English teacher not only as an English teacher but also as a class teacher for me. When my English teacher gave the subject+ paper to me for the first time, I was really excited to get this opportunity and decided not to waste it.

It went with a good wavelength of me practicing it, but suddenly I started to feel the inhibition of not doing it well. I discussed this matter with my parents and they said to do it later on when I felt confident about it.

So the next day, I told my English teacher that I would not be  able to do it and literally gave up. Thus, she gave it to another classmate of mine. Unfortunately, my classmate wasn’t interested to do it too.

I promised my teacher that no matter within 2 years, I’ll do my best to get this opportunity again. She accepted my challenge and it built a belief within myself that I can do it.

Then my 11th std began where I started to miss my best friends after they shifted to Annexe branch and some to another school. I was really curious to know who all chose Commerce stream and were now my new classmates. Some were old faces who I knew very well, new subjects, new teachers. The era of std 11 was totally different from my 10th std where I started to find lots of differences.

So I had this resolution before moving to grade 11 that  I had  to come out of my shell, expose my talents and not remain as a sloth. So, after forming a new set of circle with few persons whom I was already familiar with, I started to get close with them and it went on to develop into a close knit group. Slowly months rolled by, I got small opportunities to expose my talents in artistic fields where I contributed my best through wall paintings and decorating for my school events with my friends.

Of course, I had this expectation of going to inter school competitions where I wanted to showcase my talents in a well-versed field. But sadly, I came to know that the competition preference goes to the 12th std the most. So, I didn’t get any opportunity.

Ah… Here comes the chance of Subject+ for the second time where I asked my English teacher to participate and she said yes. I recollected the incident and the promises which I had made to myself. Then, the participated students were called for the audition for first time to our VP madam.

I had a little fear towards my VP madam, I still don’t know the reason. When I was doing the audition, she didn’t respond to it much and carried on with other students who were waiting. Then I came to know that my name got rejected in the first audition and to be honest my heart dropped out.

It felt like I wasted this opportunity. I started to lose hope towards that subject+ and my mind said, “If you had got this chance, you would have been able to speak confidently”. Then I began to think about it for those many days. So, I told myself “I will do whatever it takes during 12th std”. That was my turning point.

As time went by, I still remember the short film that I was a part of, which was about anti-bullying conducted by “My Peegu”. I played  the lead role and I still remember how I cried while listening to the story since I completely related to that character and rest of my friends also did their role very well.

While shooting the short film, it was really fun and we had finished it in a short period. I really learnt lot of things while playing that role personally. During Children’s day, our short film was played in every class. My principal madam appreciated me for my growth. And after watching it, the whole school started to notice me. Many came to me asking “Akka, weren’t you the one who played the lead role in that short film?”, I always answered “yes” with a smile. Every time I passed through the corridor, the children would ask me about the film, and they appreciated me for the role which I did. I personally got to appreciate my close friend who wrote the plot for that short film.

I went through the stage of anxiety often where it led me to overthinking, introspecting myself and it developed a fear within me whether I would start drifting away from  my close friends owing to my reserved nature. It made me worried often and developed an inhibition to speak to my friends and share my feeling which made my situation even worse. I frankly never made any phone calls to any of my close friends and I never bothered about it. I still remember when my friends made a conference call with me, that was when I came to know what a conference call really means.

My friends would say that I really speak in a formal way through phone and I never shared my feelings to them. However, I was transparent with my sister and I’d always cry to her lamenting why I couldn’t able to be open with other people and have fun with them. She’d advise me every time and pacify me often.

Time went by, my friends taught me how to make a phone call. After the end of 11th grade, I accomplished something for the first time, my debut article “Dream Big Kid!” being published in 2019 April month edition of Infinithoughts and after that publication, my kith and kin, my friends were really proud of my achievement. So, this gave me the confidence to write.   

I felt lot of differences during my 11th and 12th because of the enjoyments, fun in the classroom and the development within myself. In this current grade 12, I continued the same exposure and slowly I’ve started to share feelings with my friends and sometimes the phone calls also got longer.

I started to gain lots of things in std 12th that I missed out before. I got the opportunities to go to inter-school competitions, participate there and expose my talents in a well-versed field.

Since I love listening to music, I was influenced by one of my top favorite girl group LITTLE MIX comprising of Jesy Nelson, Perrie Edwards, Leigh Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall. Their past struggles helped me to build confidence within myself and break away from my inhibitions. Their music and the message which they are trying to convey helped not only me, but also for several other fans who are struggling.

So one last time, I tried for this subject+ and chose the 1st block. I didn’t expect much this time. For one and half months, every day I used to practice speaking in the middle of the night because that’s where I can feel the silent vibes and my parents would be sleeping. Initially I had inhibitions and I often broke down or started to laugh while narrating to my sister. She guided me to speak in a better manner. I was being called by Principal Ma’am and VP ma’am for the audition and this time I got selected. They also trained me to speak and they would correct my mistakes side by side and make me practice harder.

Again I got this fear if I would become a failure while addressing or what if I stammer? I by hearted the whole papers slowly and later I narrated to my close friends and they were astonished by my ability to memorize those paragraphs without stammering. My close friend guided me to have eye contact while speaking which was crucial. My English teacher also trained the other selected students to speak by guiding us with the modulations, word pronunciations etc. After I would return from school and finished my work, I would practice speaking in front of the mirror and check out how well I carry my expressions. But I also believed that I gave my best.

At last the selected students were called to speak and show to Correspondent ma’am. There was a trendsetter demo to deliver the speech by two students with their blocks. I saw the demo, and after a while I was the first person to speak to Correspondent ma’am with my 1st block followed by my Co mate and another team. I went in a good flow without any fear intruding me. Finally, with all my efforts, Correspondent ma’am selected me. She really appreciated my potential on delivering the speech and I was astonished to hear those words from her for the first time. She appreciated other students who were also a part of this talk. Finally, I got the chance for doing this talk at Vidhya Mandir, Estancia with my co-mate.

On the day of the talk, I was really excited and a little nervous. So, I prayed and gave my best with all my efforts and addressed the students of that school. I never felt any inhibition while speaking. After delivering it, THAT MOMENT, I felt like I really won the world war 3 which I was struggling to put an end to. Through this, I proved myself that I can speak anytime without any hesitations. After those 2 years, I felt the real pride within myself and I got the belief that I can communicate better with  my family, friends and teachers.

My friends, teachers, and family were really proud for the talk which I gave and the changes which I’m going through right now. I saw that pride in my English teacher’s eyes that I achieved after those struggles. It made me even more happier after seeing her face.

I learnt one thing from one of the sessions by my Correspondent ma’am that growth needs transformation, transformation needs change, change needs transition and transitions are never comfortable. I really felt this as a positive breakthrough.  This is just a beginning. There are many things which I’ll be facing, and I always believe that I will be able to do it by not allowing my inhibitions to disrupt me and execute it with my all my efforts and beliefs which I hold.

So that’s it. My story ends with the change I went through and going through right now and the impact of it within myself and towards my surrounding. To the one who’s reading this right now, if you’ve gone through any kind of fear, the only way to overcome it is not to dump your feelings, views, opinions in your heart and keep replaying them. Instead pour them out and work towards it. It’s better to be a speaker that voices its thoughts out loud than to be a headphone that would keep everything within itself and not even make a speck of sound to its surroundings.

With regards, 

S.T. Anisha Elizabeth (XII-B)

N.S.N.Mat. Hr. Sec. School, Chromepet, Chennai-44