Stepping Through Fear

As the owner and primary teacher at L Models I am constantly amazed, and often moved to tears, at how modelling improves confidence. When students join L Models they are eager to Model, and for good reason, that's what they signed on to do. Many come with visible signs of anxiety, nerves and lack of confidence and in many instances they are accompanied by Mom's who tell me that "they" will have difficulty walking in front of people or being the center of attention.

When we begin the public speaking part of the program you can see the fear on most of their faces and that's my cue to talk about stepping through fear. Now a days we all know a youth or young adult who would say they struggle with anxiety on some level. Some will say they deal with it and it doesn't hold them back while other's will say they are debilitated by it, allowing the anxiety to stop them from pursuing things they dream of doing. That's where I come in. As a parent of two teenage girls I get it. I realize that growing up in this digital world of social media bares no comparison to the world I grew up in, but, we are all human and human nature is basically the same across the board. I can remember being put into situations where I did not want to be. My heart would pound so hard my head would go black inside, I would only hear muffled sounds, I would sweat and feel weak but I had no choice but to move forward because that's just what you did "back then". There wasn't anybody to step in and say "if you're not comfortable doing this it's o.k". Now, like most things I believe there is a happy middle ground and that's what I want to talk about, the middle ground, that area between moving forward, even though you are paralyzed with fear, doubt and anxiety, and recognizing that you would be better of you did not.

When student models sign up in September they begin practicing right away for our first fashion show of the year held in October or November. As we eek closer to the show I start to see the signs of nervousness among the student models. Some laugh it off but are excited to model in a big show while other's are stricken with fear. This season I had a student model who was in the "stricken with fear" category. She was coming to class and loving it but once I began coaching them with the October 2020 show in mind I could see her shutting down, the doubt was taking over. It wasn't long before her Mom came to me to say she didn't think her Daughter could continue. I advised her Mom that she did not need to do anything she was not ready to do but that she could come, practice her walking and practice in the safe environment to build her confidence, and if she didn't want to model in the show it's o.k but to come, help back stage but just please don't quit. The student came one more time but ultimately quit, not because she didn't love modelling, because she was scared to be in the show.

Here is the fear I have about that scenario. The bar has now been set for that girl to quit. Every time she has that level of anxiety or fear about something she will hear her internal cue to quit, run, give up on something she really dreams of doing. She will also have the confirmation of her inadequacy re inforced by her Mom who supported the quitting. I know that is not the Mom's intended message but it is. When my middle child was 15 she began taking training to be a Lifeguard, a dream she had since two years previous. Once into the latter part of her training and then 16 years of age she began to seriously doubt her ability to pass the stringent physical component of the training. She came home one night after class and said "I'm quitting, I can't do it". I went to her after she was calmed down and I said "we can brainstorm any number of possible solutions but quitting is not one of them". I believe this to be a changing moment in her development because it was a pattern for her. When things would get challenging she would try everything to rationalize quitting. She did finish and went on to be a head Lifeguard and rescue swimmer for a number of Summers around Southern N.B. This experience became her bar to measure when things get really hard and she feels like quitting she now has a new internal message of " I can do this, i've done this before".

When you quit because it's stressful, anxiety provoking or outside your comfort zone you stunt your emotional growth. Your belief in your abilities take a real hit and ultimately it trickles down to your overall self esteem, your belief about your whole self and your abilities.

Back to public speaking :) I talk to the models about stepping through that all encompassing fear of speaking in public. I tell them that the pounding heart, sweaty palms and the feeling of passing out will ALL start to disappear once they begin to speak. If they will trust the process, step through the fear and speak the first words it will all start to get better. Recently I had a model get up to speak in class. She was to introduce herself and tell us something about herself that we may not know. She did great! once she returned to her seat she started to cry and we were all shocked and asked "What's wrong"? she started to laugh/cry and said when she's overwhelmed and nervous she cries. But she did it! it will never be that bad for her again. Each time will get easier and easier and she now knows that she can do it.

L Models & Personal Development Academy

- Walk Confidently Into The Future -

I'd love to hear from you - I'm listening - Lorraine Peters.

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