In my English class we are reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. For today we were supposed to memorize the first line and recite it in front of the class.
For those who don’t know, here is the first line:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being recieved, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
We were told about this assignment two days ago and after class the teacher called me over and said, “I get the feeling that if I call on you, you wouldn’t stand up but since it needs to be fair could you say it in front of me alone after class on the day of the recitation?” I nodded my head, that was fine with me.
Today everyone recited the lines; some did well, some not so well. When our class finished, everyone but me, she said to go take a break. Not everyone left though. Some people started talking about it and then I remembered one of the comments from my singing competition:
“Maybe practice singing as much as you can in front of others. I promise it will begin to feel more comfortable.”
Even though this comment was for singing, it may work for everything else as well. The reason I say this is because, even if singing is nothing like speaking if I were to rate from what gives me the most anxiety to the least anxiety, the order would be:
Talking — Violin — Piano — Singing
Everyone was back in the classroom and the teacher told us to get our books out. Before I could think and change my mind, I stood up and went to her desk and asked, “Could I try?” Her facial expression as I said this was like she was saying she was proud of me for trying.
She said to me that she wouldn’t make a big deal of it. She went to go close the door and said to the class to put their phones away because there is one more recitation. I walked to the front of the room and I swear, as soon as I turned to face the class all the nerves came rushing at me like “Did you forget we were here?” . . . or something.
I had the line perfectly memorized because I hate making mistakes. And, thankfully, I didn’t forget it. Before I started talking I knew exactly how my voice would sound to the class because I could hear it in my head, and I was completely correct.
My voice was much higher than it normally is, it was shaking, and sounded like I was just about to cry. I had to speak slowly because I was trying really hard to fight the nerves. Towards the end where I always struggle with I got so nervous that my voice just left, no sound came out. I took a really deep breath and finished.
I got a 100% (it was out of 50 points). I can say I’m glad I did it but that was just a little too big of a push for my first time speaking in front of the class. Afterwards, I went to my locker and started heading to my next class. One of the students of my English class was leaving the classroom and when he passed me he put his hand on my shoulder and whispered “Good job Mig.”
I’m extremely happy my efforts were recognized because no one in that class understands the amount of anxiety I have. At the beginning of the year they excluded me from the class. But maybe that can be changed . . . ?