I suffer from social anxiety disorder. Social Anxiety disorder is a condition when I fear situations where I may be judged. I am constantly worried of being embarrassed, humiliating myself, offending someone and being offended by someone and not having the courage to stick up for myself. I tend to spend way too much time over analyzing my performance after social interactions. Because of this I tend to avoid social interactions if I can.
When I was in middle school I didn’t have a choice. My teacher required, for black history month, that we find a poem or a story to read in front of the class. It had to be about freedom and how to obtain it. We needed to find something that encapsulated the civil rights movement and present that to the teacher and the class. I began to get anxiety afraid that I would not be able to pull this off. The thought of presenting in front of the class brought about a wave of nausea and uncertainty.
Yet, I was a nerd and receiving an A on this project became paramount. I needed to get over my social anxiety in this instance and I needed to do it as soon as possible. So I searched and searched until I found the perfect poem. I knew it was the right fit when I found it.
This is the poem…
MIDWAY, by Naomi Long Madgett
I've come this far to freedom and I won't turn back
I'm climbing to the highway from my old dirt track
I'm coming and I'm going
And I'm stretching and I'm growing
And I'll reap what I've been sowing or my skin's not black
I've prayed and slaved and waited and I've sung my song
You've bled me and you've starved me but I've still grown strong
You've lashed me and you've treed me
And you've everything but freed me
But in time you'll know you need me and it won't be long.
I've seen the daylight breaking high above the bough
I've found my destination and I've made my vow;
so whether you abhor me
Or deride me or ignore me
Mighty mountains loom before me and I won't stop now.
It empowered me to get in front of the class and present my poem with power and strength. Civil rights and black empowerment was the purpose of this poem but for me it meant more. My social anxiety is a hard thing to live with and this poem showed me that I could accomplish things despite the hardships. It meant more than being black or being proud of my blackness but that I could stand up for myself and overcome in many ways in my life.
“And I’ll reap what I’ve been sowing…” showed me that if I wanted a different outcome in life I had to reap it. In that moment I felt free, in that moment, from my social anxiety.
In case you were wondering I received an A+ grade