The alarm clock went off, and by alarm I mean my mother had entered my room telling me it was time for school.
Here I was doing it again -- starting over. This time my military father had been transferred to the Republic of Panama. Not quite as exotic as it sounds. The department of defense ran Curundu Junior High School, so it was a bunch of other American kids and me attending.
I always dreaded that first day of school in a new location. Each time we were transferred my mother would drop us off on our first day and wish us luck.
Luck had nothing to do with it. I was shy and lanky and just didn't fit in. Now I had the monumental task of trying to introduce myself to new kids and make friends, and that was scarier than a Wes Craven horror movie.
These kids didn't need a chainsaw, a knife, or some scary creature; they could do the ultimate harm by simply rejecting me.
I went home that day without making a friend. Eventually, the kids warmed up to me and I had a couple of buddies to hang out with at school.
Fear of rejection is a feeling that sometimes never goes away.
Years later, I was closing in on my 30th birthday and had managed to get a job interview at WCBS radio in New York. This was huge!
When I entered the lobby, the radio was blasting through the overhead speakers and what I heard was nothing short of amazing. These were really talented people. My next thought was, "Brad, you're out of your league." I wanted to run out of the building but I went to the restroom instead. I sat in a stall, collected my thoughts and told myself I was as capable as anybody on that station. I didn't believe it but it helped at the moment.
I also knew that if I could just last an hour or so, the interview would be over, I'd be on a flight back to Texas and then safe in my apartment.
The audition went well, News Director Harvey Nagler entered the room and said he was impressed. But he knew that I was nervous because Nagler and about six others had been staring at me through the window of the recording booth and listening intently to every word I read. He asked me to do it one more time. I did and he offered me a job on the spot.
It's okay to be scared. Fear is natural. It helps those in the animal kingdom assess danger and create a strategy to deal with it.
How do you eliminate fear? You don't.
For humans, it's the fear of the unknown that shakes us to our core. We want absolutes, but there are very few in this world (death and taxes?).
Any effort to eliminate this feeling is futile. The key is to acknowledge the fear and move forward. I knew it would be a tough day at school, but I also knew I'd get through it and eventually I'd have new friends. I knew I'd get through that job interview and either get the position or land another somewhere else.
So face your fear, knowing that whatever the situation is, it won't last. What's the worst that could happen? Well, chances are it probably won't. And yes, sometimes you just have to fake it. Put on a smile, act confident and do what you have to do.
Follow Brad Wheelis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheBradWheelis