Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ripple Effect: The Influence of Nerves

The Influence of Nerves
Sasha Martin

      "I-I-I-I-I Iloveyou!" She says, biting her lip nervously. Change of scene: "I... I... I'm so sorry Carla, I can't do this any longer. We... we... I... we... I... we have to break up--it's not you, it's me!" Change of scene: "Uh.... so... dad? You know that report card I got about 2 weeks ago? Uh... well, I may or may not have gotten a C somewhere in there..." Change of scene: "Holy shit! Oh my fucking god! I can't do it!! Oh my god, I'm doing it! I'm sky diving, right nooooooo--!"

     Yes, the power of nervousness works in funny ways. Sometimes it keeps us from doing something we'd like, leaving us in an oddly unsatisfied comfort zone that leads to later regrets. Sometimes it makes us stutter or hold back intensities. Sometimes it makes us joke around like we don't care, when inwardly, the topic addressed is of the utmost importance. Sometimes, it makes us so on edge that odd jumbles of swear words pour forth from our mouths mindlessly. Though it makes life unpredictably thrilling, nervousness can be a dirty obstacle to overcome.
       A typical example ... 
       Waiting in the hall before class, the air is always thick with the nervous, "should I start a conversation?", everyone quietly trying to look busy by shifting from one foot to the next. All it takes is one person to initiate a conversation, or open the classroom door to get seated because the room is clearly empty, and yet, the feet keep shifting and mouths stay nervously clamped shut. If someone does finally step up and, say, open the door of the classroom to get settled and wait for the professor, everyone trickles behind and the once stagnant atmosphere becomes chaotic with the stampede of following students, moving as though they'd never stood still. Or, when the first person to finally make an effort to speak says, "hello," all of a sudden everyone becomes much more at ease with talking, when before their lips would quiver with the energy of: I want to talk, but should I say it or is it the right time? 

   So, why is this? Why is it that people wait for someone else to make the first move? They do they need the validation of another person to say it's ok-- need someone to follow. We see this every day. People get nervous when they feel like they are on the spotlight, even irrationally so.

     Another example...
     A guy and a girl will be sitting next to each other, the sexual chemistry eating away at the air between them. Students, or maybe colleagues, stream by busily around them. What will they do? Most of the time they will avoid eye contact at all costs, and eventually part ways, looking back over their shoulders wistfully. How often do men or women take a leap of faith and at least talk to the other person, and at most ask for a number-- in reality, there is nothing to lose in going out on a limb with a stranger. The fear of rejection, especially in front of a crowd, is paralyzing to some. But, if anything, the loss is found in not taking the extra step because that person sitting inches away, that person that makes all your senses extra aware and your heart beat faster? Could be the love of your life! Your next one-night-stand! Your soon-to-be ex you'll never speak to again. Any which way, wouldn't it be more satisfying to find out for yourself instead of giving up before, "hello"?

    Even telling someone how you feel is difficult at times. You rehearse it over and over in your head, and end up just blurting it out because you are so nervous, it's the only way you'll ever get the words out! Well, from now on, consider your own nervousness. Is it the kind that should be soothed or the kind that should be challenged? Is it the kind that worries of rejection or losing the comfort of the norm? If so, then challenge it and do what's making you nervous! The point is to be the leader your body wishes you to be, and "just do it"! Whatever it is your body is aching to do, but your nerves are holding you back-- "just do it"! Because once you do, you'll wonder why you were ever nervous in the first place! 

      Baby steps. Next time you're in front of a classroom waiting to be let in? Count how long it takes for people to make conversation or to enter the classroom without the teacher. Look at the type of people who start the conversations. Are they comfortable with themselves? Leaders? Most likely. And, the time after that? Be that leader! Don't be the nervous follower who later sits down and wonders, "what would it have been like if I had just said, 'hello'?"

Women in the World and Relationships Section, Sasha Martin:         

   I made my own major, concerning emotions explored through literature, art, cognitive science and psychology, and am minoring in creative writing at UC Berkeley. My passions are writing and the arts in general. I created Unleashed for the empowerment and enlightenment of women everywhere. I am the editor, designer and a contributing writer, and happen to be extremely proud of the staff Unleashed has developed. I truly hope this magazine speaks to each and every woman.   

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