Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-fear June 1, 2016

Filed under: Poetry,Teaching — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:34 am
Tags: , , , , ,

That explains everything, doesn’t it?

You’re afraid.

You’re so afraid of someone’s opinions

that you won’t risk anything.

You’re afraid you’re not perfect,

that you’ll make a mistake,

that someone will laugh at you.

All of this failure to complete your work

to present to the class,

to hand in an assignment

is all because you’re so concerned about image

you’ve turned yourself into a failure.

THAT was the image you wanted for yourself?


Life is a series of risks, of mistakes, of rough drafts,

of trying, and failing, and working and succeeding.

Are you so critical of others that you think everyone

is that critical of you?

In this time of social media,

confidence is your power.

My dog was happy and friendly.  After he was attacked, he became fear aggressive.

He growled when other dogs came near, lunging at them.

He built a wall.  He’d learned he had to defend himself.

It took a trainer with care and many friendly dogs to teach him to feel safe again.

I wonder what it will take,

for all of you?





Interesting conversation before my class today as we discussed students who refuse to present to the class.   A new teacher was asking what to do about this situation.  My student over-heard the conversation and said that  if there’s someone who doesn’t like you in the class, they’ll be judgmental. She said No one wants to be judged.  So- It doesn’t matter it’s a life skill.  It doesn’t matter that not being liked by the odd person is normal.  I was told, “We’re afraid”  and that was the end of it.  It is unfair of teachers to expect them to try things that are difficult because they learn and grow that way, and they just want to stay as they are.



21 Responses to “poem-fear”

  1. If my own circle of classmates is any indication, it’ll take life- and survival, to overcome that self-limitation.

  2. Melody J Haislip Says:

    Sounds as though Somebody is pissed. 😛

    • You should have heard the anger in the young lady’s voice as she vehemently described the fear of being judged.

      What is especially ironic, is that these same kids wear trashy clothes, curse and carry on, show smutty photos of themselves on social media, will perform sexual acts with boys they hardly know, and they’re worried about ‘being judged’ for a 30 second poetry presentation?! It is SO messed up!

      This generation is very different from the ones preceding it. So many pressures we didn’t have as adolescents.

  3. age does it quite nicely

  4. vjknutson Says:

    For the first few lines I thought you were talking about me, lol. Public speaking is a difficult task even for the thick skinned.

    • I was on the stage from age 3, so I never had any difficulty, but I feel strongly that kids need to LEARN the confidence by actually doing it. Small things like presenting in class prepare for auditoriums.

  5. None Other Then Hannah Says:

    and this is where I quote the late Kurt Cobain ‘Congratulations you have won, a year’s subscription of bad puns.” -Opinion

  6. Hi Shawn, just shared this on my Facebook page. I think this may apply to people of all ages!

  7. Grandpa Says:

    Sometimes it harks back to parental criticism. If your parents have always put you down, it takes a lot of soul-searching to overcome that negative criticism. You think that you are useless. And even the slightest negative comment can be devastating. I gave a presentation, recently, and, despite 25 positive comments, the only one I remember is, “My wife said you spoke too fast because she’s foreign and couldn’t keep up!”

    • And that one is probably most valuable comment (and therefore the most memorable), because it actually offers you a specific thing to work on for next time.
      If someone only tells you good things, you don’t have concrete focus for future improvement. 25 might be placating, 1 might be helpful.
      I have my students do evaluations of my classes, and always the most useful things the say are suggestions for improvement. Compliments are nice, but of minimal value. I have made many changes and tried new things because of suggestions from my students. 🙂

      • Grandpa Says:

        I agree totally. But when you have to stand up in front of the class, having been rejected by your parents for most of your life, it sort of puts you off a bit. I’m all for constructive criticism, but when you have put up with negative feedback, all your life, just “to keep you humble,” you get a bit shy and reserved. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with his wife. I do speak too fast. But that negative comment initially took me back to my childhood parental rejection. And I turned 60 last week. That’s how long the effect lasts.

        Mind you, it doesn’t stop me making presentations. I’ve now learned to overcome the negativity. But it still hurts.

      • Thanks for sharing.

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