JUST DO IT!
At sixteen, Tayo had begun to take more than a passing interest in the opposite sex. Until now, he had not taken more than a cursory look at any girl. In fact, he had carefully avoided their company. He had no sisters. This meant that he had never really learnt how to engage any girl in conversation, even in his class. He felt therefore the need to build up his confidence level and learn how best to start a conversation with any girl he wanted to strike a friendship with.
Fidelis, Tayo’s friend was a direct contrast. He seemed to be the toast of every party. Fidelis oozed confidence and was a smooth talker who could serenade anyone in conversation. Needless to say, he was a hit with the girls. Whenever he was in their company, he had an uncanny way of getting them to grin from ear to ear with intermittent giggles and chuckles mixed with loud laughter. Tayo never ceased to wonder how Fidelis could pull that off. To solve his own problem, Tayo decided to ask Fidelis for help. He had zeroed in on a particular girl in his class named Tamuno. He liked her to no end and always developed butterflies in his stomach each time he saw her.
“Teach me how to talk to the girls” he implored Fidelis. “I am particularly interested in Tamuno and would love to know her better.”
“Piece of cake”, Fidelis replied. “To start a conversation with a girl, you will need an ice-breaker; something to ease the tension and make you both relax. During the lunch break, find a means of sitting right opposite her, then look her straight in the eye and say, “Tamuno, when I look into your eyes, time simply stands still”. With that she should at least smile and relax. By the way, you don’t need to worry because I will be right beside you.”
“Great. Sounds wonderful,” said Tayo. Then he began to repeat over and over aloud to ensure that he did not forget and to build up his confidence level. He actually got a sheet of paper and wrote the statement several times on it.
“Tamuno, when I look into your eyes, time simply stands still”
He practiced the sentence several times every day for several days until he was very confident that he could deliver without stuttering. When he felt that his confidence level was high enough, he fixed a date for the onslaught.
Finally, the D-day arrived. The moment he had both dreaded, yet anticipated had at last, come. At break time, Tayo and Fidelis went directly to where Tamuno was sitting with her friends. As he positioned himself directly opposite her, he looked directly into her eyes, opened his mouth to recite his ‘memory verse’. All of a sudden, he felt a big lump rise up in his throat and freeze his lips. The road to Golgotha could not have been more excruciating. Tayo just sat there staring, mouth agape with no words coming out. Seeing his friend’s dilemma, Fidelis sat down beside him and acting as a prompter, gave him a nudge and whispered, “Just say it!”. Tayo tried again but the words still didn’t form.
Finally, summoning all the courage at his disposal, he blurted out in the manner of someone with hot, scalding food in his mouth, “Tamuno, …you…you…have a face that would stop a clock!”
Fidelis was so horrified he felt like the ground should open up and swallow him. After this, he would never speak a word to Tayo again. How could he have messed up so badly?
Tamuno’s response shocked them both. Seeing beyond Tayo’s nervousness into his real intention, she laughed and thank him for the compliment. It was the beginning of a great friendship which eventually led to a happy marriage ten years later.
Butterflies in the stomach. As a public speaker, I know the feeling too well. There is perhaps no other sphere of endeavour where I know the palpable reality of fear like public speaking. Everyone who has the opportunity to stand before an audience recognizes that no two audiences are alike. For this reason, one cannot leave anything to chance. No matter how well prepared you are for an event, your first few minutes on stage can make or mar even a well rehearsed presentation. In my years as an actor, the same condition prevailed. The first time I appeared on stage, I stuttered through my lines, not minding the fact that I had been coached over and over again by my Dad who was directing the play. It was in the year 1968 and the play was John Pepper Clark’s “Song of A Goat”. In my excitement, I had harassed every visitor to our house with my lines. But on presentation day, I felt as if someone had my tongue glued to my palate. I struggled through while feeling like someone should ferret me out of that stage. When people commended my performance afterwards, I wondered if they were humouring me or just trying to encourage my deflated ego! Over the years however, I have become better at managing the situation (emphasis on “managing”!)
One good thing about fear is that most of what we are afraid of are nothing but the gnomes we created and set in our heads. In reality, fear is usually a manifestation of an imagination running riot and usually in the wrong direction.
Several times, we want to do things but are waiting for all conditions to be perfect. The writer of Ecclesiastes in the Holy Bible writes that he who waits for all conditions to be perfect will never get anything done. Truth be told, conditions are hardly ever perfect for any venture especially at the beginning.
Many people are trying to get it right instead of just getting it going. Fear is the Siamese twin of risk-taking. People who win in life do not win because they are fearless. They win because they went ahead, confronted their fears and ventured in spite of it.
Your success story begins at the point where you move beyond your fears even while tongue-tied, clammy-palmed and sweating like the proverbial Christmas goat, and you go ahead and do the very thing that appeared like it was going to kill you.
If you are at that point in your life now where you are faced with a venture to undertake but are afraid of taking the plunge in the hope that things would be perfect before you do, I hate to rain on your parade. They won’t.
My candid advice (even at the risk of sounding like Fidelis)?
Just do it!
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!