You make me nervous  6

You make me nervous.  No, I get nervous.  No, I let you make me nervous.

Some people make me nervous.  Sometimes I’m nervous around them, every time I’m around them.  I am basically holding my breath in their presence.

Other people make me nervous only when specific topics or actions come up. I know that I’ve had an issue with feeling judged by others all of my life.  I’m not sure where it came from but I think it started in high school, when we moved from the warm, all-black neighborhood in St. Louis where I went to Soldan HS to the suburb, University City, where I attended University City Senior HS. We were among the second  wave of  Black families who moved there and some of them gave looks that let you know they felt you didn’t belong or past muster.

In matters small and big, I get nervous:

  • The friend who dresses so well that I always feel like she’s judging my clothes. If she gives a compliment, I feel exuberant, if she gives me a once-over and says nothing, I feel dinged.
  • The technology savvy friend/co-worker/mate whose facility with technology makes me make mistakes in front of them or ask dumb questions of them, that I wouldn’t if it weren’t them.  I know I’m better at technology than they think I am because of how I act in front of them.
  • The co-workers in proximity when I have to make a business phone call in an open office.  I feel tongue-tied and am liable to trip over my words.

nervousnessSome processes make me nervous and agitated – especially, recently, customer service from large institutions like banks and medical offices that ask for information they should have because I gave it to them only a week or so ago or it’s part of my history that they should have on file.  Weren’t they taking notes?  Don’t they have my file in front of them?

I’m not talking the simple stuff like name/birth-date/address, I’m talking additional information that I’ve already given (more than once) and that they seem to be entering in their computer database while I’m giving in.  I try not to get agitated.  I try to be understanding and not demean the messenger but really, it’s bad enough that I’m following up with you because you didn’t follow-up with me when you said you would.  Where’s the understanding that dealing with very personal matters like mortgages and health require some sensitivity in handling and that I – the customer/consumer – need to feel that you – the provider know what the hell you’re talking about and who I am. (I really want to say, “who I is” here.  Just sounds more agitated and powerful.)

Where did this nervousness come from?  Some people think of me as “Billy bad-ass”(my sister uses this phrase a lot) and self-assured but I only am in certain situations (self-assured that is, I’ve never felt like or wanted to be “Billy bad-ass.”)


Watching you watching me


About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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6 thoughts on “You make me nervous 

  • Kelly Brilliant

    I so much relate to this blog post. Thank you for sharing, and great title! This happens to me when i’m in large work group situations that i’m not running or managing. Those ones, I’m fine! But when i meet a large group of colleagues at big meetings or events, I get very nervous and then get nervous that i’m nervous because i’ve been doing my job for 15 years and am supposed to know how to network. etc. The other day this happened and i just kept berating myself for not having my hair done properly and wearing ugly pants! I know it’s ridiculous but it just comes over me.
    As for getting nervous around individuals, this does happen occasionally, too. I’ve noticed it happens with people I respect a lot so i try to be kind to myself–what’s wrong w being a little nervous around those we have respect for, maybe that in itself is a sign of respect.

    I wish i didn’t get nervous, but I try to remember that there must be a good side to this–intelligence? sensitivity? modesty? Perhaps all of those!

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      “What’s wrong with being a little nervous around those we have respect for.” Nothing at all thanks for pointing this out. When one is sensitive and caring, one will be nervous and second-guess. Luckily, I now show up anyhow. In my younger days, I would avoid certain situations. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • JB Gatling

    Thank you for this great insight.
    It speaks to me of the duality of personality that we at times try to suppress, unsuccessfully. Our own yIn and yang. Within the same day and hour we can be a champion of consumer rights redeeming something that threatens to cheat us out of an expected benefit; moments later we are are a bundle of stress and nervousness as we interact with the cable company or telephone company (I always take several deep breaths before commencing those calls).
    Same with different people.
    Can’t change it must embrace it.

  • Peggy

    Thanks for sharing such a personal post Candelaria.
    As I age I feel less nervous as I go about my daily life but public speaking still conjures up such a lack of self-confidence that I very rarely agree to doing it.
    When I address small groups of people I am a little less nervous but I would rather not do it. On a one to one basis you can’t shut me up!
    Take care and keep shining my friend.

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      I’m sorry that I’m taking so long to respond to my reader from Australia. Somehow I missed this comment when you originally submitted it. Thanks for taking time to comment. Public speaking is a big fear for many people. I am more comfortable with the anonymity I feel in a crowd – one-on-one with some people is more difficult for me. Happy New Year.