Breath of fresh air

Writing is the only thing that keeps me sane in a world that never stops fighting, bickering and talking about things that aren’t important. In a classroom of 99% of the other gender, I’ve failed to find anyone I can talk to, like actually talk maybe I haven’t looked hard enough. That is the reason I convinced my self to go to a writers workshop organised by Liberty Books . I wanted a breath of fresh air, but for someone like me even a breath of fresh air requires weeks of planning.

From sending my submission, to receiving an invite, to paying for the registration I still hadn’t quite registered that I was actually physically going. This may seem bizarre to you but belive me this is how an introverted person functions. Two days before the scheduled event it started sinking in that I was going to meet new people in less than 48 hours. People who I will have to talk to, people who might not like me, what if I don’t know what to say, what if I make a fool of myself, what will I wear. This is all I thought about. I binged watched ‘F.r.i.e.n.d.s’ to calm myself, even picked up my copy of ‘Perks of being a wallflower’, but that didn’t help. So, I slept.

Yesterday morning, the day of the event I blocked it completely out of my system, I did what I always do. Cereal, tea and YouTube. Roamed around the house but I couldn’t actually do anything else, not when I had to be some where in 5 hours! I texted my best friend to release some of the anxiety and this is how the conversation went.

I’m so nervous about the workshop. Why does this always happen?
Is it an interactive thing?
I guess so..
Just don’t think about it at all. Think about everything but that. When is it?
Why don’t you go a bit early and just sit there and read a book or something. To get used to the whole environment.
That’s what I thought. It’s the first time I’ll be seen as someone who writes. It’s exciting and nerve-wrecking.

I then picked out my favourite go-to outfit, the black shawl which to me is a safety blanket and an invisibility cloak. I let my hair down and put my eyeliner on. I took out the new handbag that went perfectly with what I was wearing and placed inside my notebook, my weekly planner, post-its, 4 sharpened pencils, 4 ballpoints (someone else might need them), a highlighter, a few too many markers, a pack of tissue, a hand sanitizer, a lip gloss, a tiny bottle of perfume, my wallet, headphones and soft mints. (This is all for a 1 hour workshop). I had already told the driver three times that I had to be somewhere at 4. I sat down for lunch and had not more than two bites because I just couldn’t eat not when I was going out in 30 minutes!

On my way to the workshop, I texted my mother I’d be out till 6:30 so she wouldn’t call me, don’t want my phone ringing in the middle of a workshop. I asked the driver twice if he knew where he was going, I played the song ‘Doubt’ by Mary J. Blige and ‘Brave’ by Sara Barailles on repeat (I kid you not)

Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue

Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I stepped into the basement of the bookstore, saw chairs lined and my heart started beating like crazy, I managed to smile and say a polite hello and sat down on one of the empty chairs. To my surprise I sat down in the first row. My hands were trembling, I made some awkward eye contacts with the people around me and then settled on reading the few pages i’d been handed over.

After the workshop started there was an undeniable warmth in the room, like someone had sprayed the room with positive energy. If there is anyone who can sniff positive energy even from a mile away, it’s me. We were divided into groups of 4. I was glad that I was amongst group of all-ladies, the last thing my anxious self wanted was to be around a guy. All four of us were so different yet so similar in a way. The rest of the 45 minutes went by smoothly because I kept telling myself ‘They don’t know you’re a mess inside, play cool’.

But everyone was so lovely and everyone was talking about writing, there wasn’t any judging. People were smiling and there was coffee. It almost seemed I was in my shell and these people weren’t intruding in any way. Maybe that is the reason why I was the only one who kept saying how lovely it was to be there and I’m glad I came, no one quite knew what a struggle it was to come here.

I went home holding a cup of coffee, a new diary for my diary collection and just positive energy. My heart was still beating faster than it should but at least I wasn’t shaking. The whole ride home I tried to soak in what had just happened, I met people on my own, people who knew I like to write they didn’t seem to dislike me, I didn’t fall down or stumble or even say the wrong thing. I did it!

To everyone who has an introverted or anxious person in their lives please make sure you understand how they function, last minute plans and loud places are a big no. Give them room to adjust to a new place and once they adjust they’ll be completely at ease. One last thing, please initiate the conversation.

So that is all I have to tell you today, I wanted to write this down so maybe the next time I panic before I go out, I can have something to encourage me to just do it.

This article is written by Haya Fatima.




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