No Longer Afraid
Sitting in English class freshman year, I couldn’t focus, all I could think was, Please, please, don’t call on me. Don’t pick me. I dreaded the teacher asking me to read aloud. This scared me more than anything. So I sat quietly—head down and eyes on the paper—sure to not make the teacher notice. But somehow the teacher made me read aloud and I stumbled on each and every word. What was my problem? It’s just reading, but every time I got called on, I froze and forgot how to pronounce even the simplest words. And they were words that you could find on a first grader’s spelling list: ruler, cloak, cabinet. I was beyond embarrassed.
Then, I got a job at Walgreens. I was hired as a cashier and I had to introduce myself, ask customers questions, and hold a conversation. At first, I didn’t know how to approach and talk to the customers.
I would awkwardly walk past and say hi, but then I’d quickly walk away, seeing as I didn’t want to talk to them. I wasn’t trying to be rude—I just didn’t know how to interact with complete strangers.
How did people do this? I felt out of place. And my actions caught the attention of one of my mangers.
“Madison, you are doing very well, but there’s one thing I need you to work on for me. I need you to be more outgoing and talk to customers. Make them feel welcomed.”
I knew he was right and that I needed to suck it up and come out of my shell. So during the next months, I interacted with customers and made them feel like I cared about their well being. I did this by observing my colleagues and asked for help from my manager on how to approach situations.
This then carried into my life as a student. Soon, I raised my hand in class and volunteered to read aloud. I wasn’t as nervous to give speeches, or make new friends. I forced myself to be outgoing and to be myself—and I learned a valuable lesson: to swallow my nerves and be myself with people.
I have changed throughout my four years of high school—I went from a shy, awkward freshman, to a confident outgoing senior. Working at Walgreens showed me how to be myself and how to talk to people. Now, instead of sitting in the back row, I am in the front, ready to participate.