It was my first presentation of a research paper at an international conference in Salzburg. I was scheduled to be one of the first presenters on the first day. I didn’t know anyone in the room and I was a bit anxious. I had rehearsed the presentation a few times. I was confident because I knew my paper and the key points I wanted to make very well but nevertheless, I was anxious. And then… they gave me a microphone to hold in one hand and they had a camera on the other side to record the session and disseminate the presentations later. This was it! My hands started shaking and I couldn’t stop. The microphone was shaking in my hand I couldn’t stop. And then I figured out the solution… I pressed my trembling hand with the microphone to my chest to stabilize it and started to concentrate on the presentation. Ten minutes later it was all finished and I don’t think anyone ever understood my anxiety.
Fast forward some years later. “Are you trembling?” She asked me. “No…” I said… but I knew I was. It was one of my first times in a milonga. I knew her because we were taking classes together… she was already more experienced than me and of course, I was a bit anxious. One of the first times I managed to do a cabeceo… one of the first times dancing in a milonga… and although we have met before in classes… I was still trembling. As a beginner, when you manage to dance with a better dancer you might have a feeling of anxiety. I still may do, when I think that my partner is out of my league.
Some months ago I had the opposite experience. I was dancing with a girl in a milonga and I could sense her anxiety from the embrace. Looking from the outside, she would seem just fine but an embrace is a place where many things can happen without anyone noticing from the outside. I never asked her… just continued dancing as usual and told her a big thank you at the end of the tanda like nothing strange happened.
Fear of the unknown
In a podcast a long time ago from Jordan B Peterson I heard a very interesting story of what happens to a mouse when they confront a cat for the first time. They run back to their nest and scream for hours. They scream so much that other mice in the area are freezing from the scare. Then it stops… and starts going out of its nest to explore a little piece of the area nearby. It returns. It goes out again exploring a bit further… and back again… and it repeats the process until it is back to normal.
All the previous stories have the same common denominator. The fear of the unknown. I have never spoken at a conference before… I have never experienced a stranger’s embrace before… I have never danced with a better partner before… I have never done a lot of things in my life until I did them for the first time. They were unknown… maybe they seemed too big… too intimidating… too frightening. Shaking and trembling were proof that I was finally making the step. I was confronting the fear. I was taking the risk. I was getting out of my nest… out of my comfort zone… like a mouse… exploring my surroundings.
You know what?… after you ve explored the surroundings multiple times… you realize that your fears were just in your head… after some time… you laugh at them and see how silly they were. But you need to make that first step, get out of your nest and face them. Trembling, shaking, sweating… no matter how. Just go for it. Embrace your fear and it will fade away.
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is about fears. The guy is afraid that she doesn’t love him anymore. What if it’s true? The fear is again of the unknown territory… a life without her… that he might need to discover… and this is terrifying.