Time to Face My Fear of Being on TV
Life is tough. Who really doesn’t get that? Everyone feels that way from time to time. In a way its one of the things that bond us together, the human condition. Sometimes I can get lost in the things that are hard for me. Balancing my time, getting my work done everyday, taking care of my family. And then there are the other things, the ones that aren’t everyday occurrences. One think I hate is feeling uncomfortable, scared or worried. One of those things for me is being on TV. I know maybe that seems silly to you. You have probably seen me at some point doing an interview on TV for “Blue Friday”, or maybe on a commercial for WGNA. What you don’t see is the days or sometimes weeks of dread that I felt leading up to it. And it amazes me sometimes how some people can just do it with so much ease, like its like breathing for them , they just do it. There is no way someone like that could understand my fear. They could never understand how hard it is for me to even attempt being on TV. I imagine to myself that when they find out how afraid of it I am they laugh at me behind my back while pretending to be understanding to my face. After all its natural for them.
That is the way I feel about the Telethon we have coming up this Sunday. This will be my second year helping raise money for The Center for Disabilities Services. Now if you want to watch me suffer you can do so on Fox23 this Sunday from 12pm - 7pm. I am already nervous and uncomfortable about being in front of a camera. But there are a couple of reasons I will be there doing it anyway. First, It’s a great cause. If you know me at all you know I feel strongly about the need for a society to do all it can to empower and enable all of its citizens to reach their highest potential. I can’t think of very many facilities that can do this as well as the do at The Center for Disabilities Services. The other reason goes deeper into my personal problem of camera shyness.
Last year was WGNA’s first year teaming with Fox 23 and The Center to raise money. So we had a tour of the Facility here in Albany. It was an amazing tour. Great people , great consumers and very uplifting. But I have to tell you , even on the tour the fear and lack of desire to actually go on TV and help host a telethon was never far from my mind. Even as I walked the halls and saw more and more need for me to do this to help these wonderful people, I would be thinking, “Oh God, I cant do this”.
Towards the end of our tour we found ourselves in a room with just a couple of young children and a couple of staff members. I remember one boy was sitting/laying on a staff member who was supporting him from behind. He was probably about 5 years old. I looked into his eyes, and with many other of the consumers at the center, you could see his acknowledgement of me. He saw me, understood I was a visitor and I think wanted to say “Hi”. He couldn’t. He really could’t SAY anything. In fact as he uttered his sounds the Staffer would actually close and open his mouth. This I didn’t understand at all. I watched for a few minutes as she told me they have been doing this for a long time. Was it weeks? Months? I don’t remember but for a while for sure. I watched some more just not getting how this is going to do anything to help anyone. Not being mean in any way, it just seemed to me this boy was never going to be able to have a conversation with anyone. I know that seems callous but it was that bad. I felt so much for him , I wished there was a miracle cure for whatever his disability was so that he could run and jump and talk like any other kid his age. That is when it happened.
The combination of the sound he was making and the staffer’s movement of his mouth and I finally heard what she (and probably more so , he) wanted to hear. “Maaaaa Maaaaa” The excitement from the staff member was infectious. She was so happy and you could tell that hearing that word meant so much to her. SO I asked her, why do you get that excited to hear just one word? She looked at me and said,” It’s not for me, do you have any idea how excited his Mom is going to be when she hears him say that today? Do you realize how long she has waited to hear it?” And it all made sense. Everything.
Not only did my fear of being on camera not matter as much to me, I learned a valuable lesson. Life is tough. And if that woman can work with that boy for months to get the word Ma Ma to come out of his mouth, and that boy could work so hard to say it, how could I think ANYTHING I needed to do was that hard? Maybe I have a fear that people don’t understand. The fear of failing or messing up on TV in front of all those people. The fear that all those possessional newscasters who do it all with such ease would laugh at me. That they just don”t understand how hard it is for someone like me. And maybe their lack of understanding, real or imagined made doing it just that much harder for me. That I imagine is exactly how disabled people fell every day. Every day. Every day. They don’t quit , they face their fears and move forward. SO I will too.
What I hope that you can do on Sunday during the Telethon, or Friday, during our Radiothon is show them that you understand. That you don’t laugh behind their backs. That you are behind them and want them to face their fears and their disabilities head on. Maybe you can be inspired to try something you have been afraid to try. And maybe you will be inspired to pick up the phone and make a donation to help them make their dreams comes true as well. Even if that dream is just to look into their Mommy’s eyes and call her by name.