Well, I wish I could say that this has been an altogether delightful birthday, but it hasn't due to one reason. Not only have I gained yet another year, which is, by all means, better than the alternative, 'tis true... but I have also just had my major phobia poked at. I'm taking Introduction to Religious Studies this semester... or rather, *might be* taking Intro. the Religious Studies. I can't get a religious studies minor without it. But there are at least 2 papers, each 5 to 7 pages long and one ten page paper to do for the class, and all of that's a major pain in the ass, but I could deal with it... In addition to that, I have to give a ten minute oral presentation on a topic of the instructor's choosing... Ten minutes!? Oral presentation!? Topic of instructor's choosing!? Could there be more horrible news? No... there could not... I'd write three 50 page papers rather than do this. Took all my self control not to hyper-ventilate in class at the mere thought... held til I was almost home. Then I sat in my car for several minutes feeling distinctly light-headed, sobbing and gasping uncontrollably... Now, I'm sitting here typing, drinking a vodka tonic (which is actually pretty good), trying to steel myself enough to go plant the trees that are waiting in the backyard. I suppose I'm going to have to write to Ms. O'Brien and see if there's any way around it. It is only 10% of the grade, so I wouldn't get a horrible grade in the class if I just said "fuck it," but it'd be nice if I could just do something else... I might just drop the class and spend the semester really getting into my major and focusing on that subject more in depth and to hell with a minor, which I've already done all the classes but two for anyway... do I really need a piece of paper to verify it?
I've been trying to figure out the root of this phobia. The best that I can come up with, as to what it actually is that I'm afraid of is that I... don't feel I have a right to speak authoritatively on a topic of which I am not an expert, and I feel extremely uncomfortable drawing attention to myself in a group of people whom I don't know at all, let alone well. I'm afraid of being told I'm wrong, and I'm afraid of the looks I'll get... the judgment I know will come. I hate it.
The last time I did it was in my Humanities class, Freshman year. We had to do art projects and write one page explaining the project and present the project while the prof had the paper in his hands. I wrote in the paper that part of the real reason I did the project on the topic I did, which was landscape photography of the Hillsborough River, was to prove that I could after what almost happened in the park on the Hillsborough River to me several months before. I was nearly attacked by a perverted old man in that park, and escaped only because the guy ran away when he saw me take out and dial a number on my cell phone. It happened in the Winter of 2002. I haven't told many people about it because nothing really happened, but it was traumatic at the time... This project was done that Spring, and at the time I wanted to prove to myself that there was still beauty to be seen there. I put all that in much greater detail in the paper version of my explanation with a note that I did not want to share that with the entire class. But the prof, largely because he was an asshole, asked me specifically about it in such a way that I couldn't answer the question without telling the entire class about it. The looks I got were not something I appreciated.
It's a very vulnerable position, speaking in front of an audience. And I, the control freak that I am, need a certain amount of distance and authority in order to feel comfortable. That's why I don't feel uncomfortable with the idea of teaching a class because in order to get there, I will become an authority on what I am teaching, and besides, I'd be in charge, what I say would go... With a presentation for a class that I'm taking though, I'm not in charge, I have no control, unexpected things can happen to me in ways that I can't anticipate because I'm no good at improvisation. It's potentially humiliating... It makes me very uneasy in the best of circumstances, at worst, I'm terrified... At the moment, I'm somewhere in between. But this is still not the way I wanted things to go today...