I spent my first two years in university in fear-fear of failure. I was scared of failing, so i did not do some things. The biggest speaking competition in University of Ibadan presently is Jaw War. When I was in 100 level, the contest had just been resurrected after about five years of being dead. I looked forward to it, but I dreaded it at the same time. I thought, “What if I go up on stage and forget my speech? What if I stutter? What if I don’t measure up to the judges’ standards? Everyone will remember me as the girl who forgot her speech.” The only reason I went on to speak despite my fears was because my colleagues in Queens’ Hall L&D kept pushing me to do it. “You have such a wonderful speech, Dunni,” they said “and you have a lovely voice.”
The coordinator then, Kemi, did not give me an option. She told me I would speak. The only complain she had was that I had poor facial expression and voice variation. Whether I was talking about rape, murder, violence, or sheer ecstasy, my facial expression remained the same. I had several rehearsals but I did not seem to improve. Still, we went for the contest. One guy from the opposing team forgot his speech. We won that round, but I did not feel too good about it. One of the judges called me after the speech and told me we won only because my supporting speaker spoke well and boosted our points. I should have felt glad that we won, but I felt bad. We lost the next round- it was a different set of girls that spoke but I still felt like I had somehow contributed to the failure.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have spoken at all,” I reasoned.
In 200 level, even though I went for my faculty L&D meetings, I totally refused to speak. I went to watch the contest, I saw people who had spoken in 100 level, they were getting better, and getting recognition. I sat in the audience, unnoticeable, cheering and applauding, when I should have been one of the speakers.
In summary, I spent a good part of my 200 level days in self-torture and almost zero self esteem. I wanted to speak, I knew I could speak, it was undeniable that I had areas where I needed improvement, but I let my fear of failure and my “past failures” stop me from doing something I love.
Just before we went on strike on April 26, I represented my faculty at a bilateral speech contest against Faculty of Technology and we won. My confidence was greatly boosted. As people hugged me, shook my hand and patted my back, I told myself, “I can do this. I have to overcome this fear that cripples me.” Funny enough, when I even thought about all the times when I’ve spoken in UI, I realised that I have never lost one. Why then am I afraid?
I use “The Word For Today” daily devotional, and Saturday, May 14’s devotional was titled “Leave Your Comfort Zone”. A part of it read, “Staying in your comfort zone will rob you of your greatest moments and memories. Your life story is written in risks- those you took and those you avoided.” My journey so far in UI can be summarised into the risks I have taken, and those I have avoided. I have told myself to stop being afraid of failure. I regret the times I allowed my fear to stop me from doing what I was created to do.
This blog is evidence of this. I have put it off for years because I was scared of failing. “What if I can’t sustain it? What if people don’t read it? What if it fails?” But I pushed the fear out of my mind. I got tired of postponing it, and of continually feeling unfulfilled.
Is there something you love doing, but you are afraid to embark on because of the fear that you will fail, or that even if it succeeds, you won’t be able to sustain it? I challenge you today to stop being afraid, break out of your fear, and go do it! Another line from the devotional read, “Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed about the risks you didn’t take than the ones you did.” Take the risk, put in your best, and commit it all to God. Success may not come quickly, but if you keep doing it, success will definitely come!