I take a seat; the lack of tremble of my hand, the serene look upon my face portrays confidence, stillness, professionalism. Whilst my head overloads with thoughts of negativity, trying to activate my flight mode in the face of my fear;
 
“It’s not good enough!” 
“You’re nuts! You’re going to look so silly” 
“It’s doesn’t rhyme! It’s no good!” 
“You might get a pity clap!”
 
The imposter syndrome hit me hard! 
 
SHUSH! 
 
I took a few deep breaths and calmed my mind with positivity, reassurance and affirmations.
 
“You’ll be fine! You do this kind of thing every day!”
“Just take your time and go for it!”
“Seriously! What is the worst that can happen!?”
“Regrets are bigger than failure”
“No-one is out to get you or trip you up! It is Women’s Day after all!”
“She believed she could, so she did…”
 
I inhaled another deep breath. A calmness washed over me as I sipped my cold cider. Being child and husband free is a rarity, so enjoy it, I said to myself. Excitement mixed with anxiety is a weird sensation to experience. I kind of enjoyed and hated it simultaneously. 
 
My breath is steady, contradicting the fact that my heart pounds strong and fast against my chest. My time nears… Seconds to go… Deep breath and I stand and as the clapping for the last poet begins to fade… 
 
The fear disintegrates, turning to adrenaline. My mind whispers gentle reminders to myself….
 
Remember eye contact, don’t let the paper block your face, speak clearly, take-your-time and lastly, enjoy it!
 
A brief introduction, as I let my written words speak for themselves…
The audience clap in support of my effort, my performance, the truths, it resonates and my message is clear. 
 
I did it! A wave of triumph comes over me! Happiness and if I’m going to be frankly honest, relief! 
 
Ok, Serena, less of the dramatics and vagueness. What are you talking about!? Sorry guys! Just exercising my writing muscle…
 
I’ve been talking a lot about facing your fears, giving yourself a challenge, which will in turn, propel you to the next level, give you more confidence, more self belief. So, this is an example of this, after all, this is my journey and not something that I’m just talking about. I wanted to share with you a recent experience of doing this “Practice what I preach” So to speak and show you what it has done for me, therefore, what it can do for you. 
 
A couple of weeks previous to this, I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and I came across a poetry event, literally a few miles away from me, held in a library. I’d been thinking about ways that I could network and hobnob with like-minded people in person and then this opportunity slapped me right in the face. I clicked the link and it mentioned a local poet I was vaguely familiar with, Sue Allen, another local, beautiful lady I didn’t know and had been doing poetry officially for a year, Ravelle-Sadé and an acclaimed poet from London, Zena Edwards. My eyes landed on a snippet of text at the bottom saying; email if interested in an opportunity for a slot on the open mic…
 
I am an opportunist after all! So, guess what?! Yes, I emailed a lovely and very funny Lydia, who promptly responded, writing that I had a 3-minute max spot on the open mic and to arrive at 6:30pm for meet and greet etc…
 
It was that simple! What the hell have I done?! Was a knee jerk thought to my impromptu act of bravery. I told my other half and he said “Have you got any poetry?!” Hhmmm a very good question! I hadn’t! But I had thought about writing some, as I feel it goes hand in hand with expressing yourself as a writer. A writer…. You have no idea how long it has taken me to actually admit that a writer, is what I am. My imposter syndrome has been on a rampage lately. 
 
So, I got to work. This poem needed to be true, it needed to be personal and relevant to what I was doing now. I mused about writing a poem around fear, but I thought that would be too close to how I would actually feel on the night. 
 
‘Your Future Self’ poem was born. 
 
I had lots of reservations, doubt, but fought it off and didn’t let them get the better of me, as I knew it was part of my self-conditioning and an excuse, to just sit comfortably and carry on with life. 
 
Back to the night in question, firstly, outside, I spoke to a older lady who said she hadn’t done poetry for years, but who was looking forward to this evening. I told her I had a spot on the open mic, had never done it before and was worried my poem wasn’t really poetry. She stated that all poetry should be read aloud, but when read, should be performed. That stuck with me. She offered me reassurance. “If it’s personal to you, it’s poetry darling!” I soo needed to hear that!
 
Inside, I met a lovely woman called Caroline (hope you don’t mind the mention), who was in the exact same position as me; saw an opportunity, was exploring her long-forgotten talent and thought, what the heck! That eased me immediately, as I imagined I’d be the only novice among the professionals. We sat together and spoke about our fears and hopes, our whys and of course, our little ones. 
 
The audience filtered into the room. A small to medium sized room with enough seats for 40-50 people. 
 
I was third in the second half, so I used the interval as an opportunity to chat to people. I approached the inspired Ravelle-Sadé, congratulated her on her beautiful poetry (seriously! Look her up). I spoke to her about how I felt and what I hoped for. She said I was doing better than she was, the first time she did this (in terms of nerves) and wished me luck. 
 
After hearing and seeing such amazing poetry performances; all varied, clever, thoughtful, strong and empowering, such as Caroline’s. It was so relevant, current, yet intimate and personal to her, around eating disorders and diet culture. It moved me greatly. I was surrounded by obvious talent. I just had to go for it! 
 
After the event, members of the audience approached me, the local paper wanted to do a feature on me…. Sorry! That was another version that happened in my head, but audience members did approach me. They praised me on how well I’d done, how my words left them feeling inspired, that I was a complete natural and why hadn’t I bought copies to purchase! Your voice was lovely, a fantastic “debut” performance, another lady said. The amazing Ms Mack, who was so warm and kind and made the night extra special, without me even having to ask…
 
 
So, what has this challenge of “Facing the Fear” done for me?
 
Well, I’ve met some truly inspiring poets; I’ve been introduced to a whole new world I want to be part of; I have a new challenge of wanting to explore my writing skill further, through poetry and I’ve met a new friend. But most of all, I have a new-found confidence and belief in myself, that I would have never discovered, had it not been for this experience. I now, do not hesitate to call myself a writer….and I need to do it again!
 
Going back briefly, what if I saw that event, a few miles down the road from me and thought, “Oh no! I can’t do that! I’m not a poet” and scrolled on? 
Regret will always be worse than failure…
 
It was a fantastic experience and I’m so glad that I could share it with you all! Had it not been a success, I would have shared that too.
 
If you take anything away from this, let it be this. That sitting down in your comfort zone, chugging along in life is fine; but what really makes you LIVE, is when you dare to do something different and challenge yourself. Growth only happens when you do… 
 
I’ll never forget International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March, 2019… I have no idea where this experience will lead me, but what I do know, is without it, none of the above would be true…and remember, I’m just a normal everyday woman, with a day job, trying to go for my dreams…
 
Until next time…
 
Serena x 
 
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She believed she could so she did, Serena believed she could, facing your fears to achieve your dreams, Serena Rogers, Nottingham, your why factor, journey towards positivity and self belief, positivity and self belief are the key to unlocking your potential