There is a moment that comes in every single one of my students' lessons.
It's quiet, and it creeps up on us. It starts with the drop of a chin to the classroom floor. A pensive silence falls over them and I can see the desperation of wanting to say something but not wanting to be judged for it in their eyes.
To me, it's a sacred moment. Because I have seen this a thousand times before, and I expect to see it a thousand times again. They are about to tell me they are afraid.
There are a few things that I have learnt about fear. The greatest lesson of all is this: what people are trying to fight and eradicate, we should embrace.
And so I tell them—it's okay to be afraid.
"I never learned a thing from a tournament I won." – Bobby Jones
I have spent my entire life battling fear. It's an emotion that doesn't go away for the chronically anxious. It permeates everything you are and do and it is there for every single type of person. Even as a drama teacher who builds confidence in kids, I have been on the other side of that conversation.
Fear does not discriminate. It seeks to isolate and eradicate hope. It overwhelms the senses, and logic and rationality do not exist in its universe.
The greatest way to move forward, however, is not to find a way to conquer or cure fear. Instead, it is to welcome it with open arms. Mould it to your benefits. Use it to spur you on.
Why? Because most overarching and overwhelming fears boil down to one thing.
A fear of failure.
We have made out all types of failure to seem like such a monumental disgrace that our kids are growing up perpetually afraid. The next generation of leaders, of world developers, of creators and inventors and scientists and artists, are all constantly afraid of being wrong. Because, to them, this is the absolute worst thing you can be.
Walt Disney was fired by his editor because he 'had no good ideas'. Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was four years old. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team (woe to the coach who decided that.)
There are a million and one stories throughout history of great men and women whom have failed and failed and failed again, and who used those failures to create something better. They embraced each failure, not as a step backwards, but rather as a step in a better and more effective direction.
And so we should tell them—it's okay to be afraid. It's okay to be wrong.
"Only those who dare to fail greatly, can achieve greatly." – Robert F. Kennedy
Now I can't speak for sufferers of anxiety. This article, unfortunately, is not for those of us who will need to take medication to avoid panic attacks, or utilise our faith in God and psychology to simply walk out of the house. Their battle is greater, and my respect for those fellow beautiful human beings who suffer from anxiety knows no bounds.
But a fear of failure is something that haunts us all. It is the great human affliction.
There is a beauty to the moment in which we as a Teacher-Student combination talk about how failing isn't such a bad thing. The posture begins to straighten a little. That sparkle in the eye, that only kids have, begins to reappear. The fear of failing was so much a part of their psyche and their understanding of the world that they'd never even stopped to consider that's why they were afraid.
And so we should tell them—it's okay to be afraid. It's okay to be wrong. It's okay to fail and fail again.
Only then will we learn that life is an intriguing process, a glorious journey, a beautiful road trip where we succeed by trying, succeed by attempting, and succeed by dreaming.
Talisa Pariss is the co-ordinator of the school-based Louder Theatre Company, teaching drama, communication skills and confidence to kids. When she's not pretending for a living, she can be found indulging in any kind of creativity she can get her hands on.
Talisa Pariss's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/talisa-pariss.html