Thursday, October 28th, 2021

P Shopper Columns


While attending a recent work-related seminar, I joined about 20 other people in a room with no air-conditioning. It was simply furnished, with tables and chairs facing a whiteboard. With the door shut and so many people inside, the room's temperature quickly began to rise. As the room got hotter, I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable. I've always been intolerant of heat, which means a temperature that might be tolerable to some can easily make me feel ill. At the beginning of the lecture, I was sitting up straight, making eye contact with the speaker, and feeling fully engaged with what she was saying. As time went on, my palms began to sweat, and it became too exhausting to hold my head up.

I wished someone would open the door, knowing that it would help cool the room, but I didn't speak up. I disliked the idea of drawing attention to myself, and there didn't seem to be an appropriate opportunity for me to interrupt. I tried to wait it out, but eventually had to excuse myself. I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face, fervently hoping I would cool off and feel better. I waited five minutes before returning to the seminar- only to feel sick again as soon as I sat down. I knew I was not going to be able to endure four long hours in that furnace, so I mustered my courage and finally raised my hand. "Can we open the door?" I asked quietly. "It's stifling in here." The speaker was gracious and accommodating, and others in the room murmured their agreement. Soon the heat began to dissipate, and I felt less inclined to melt onto the floor.

By speaking up for yourself,
your courage might also empower someone else
to raise their hand.

In truth, I probably should have spoken up much sooner. It took two seconds to raise my hand and make that request, but I was so anxious that I put it off until the last possible moment. While I don't know why something so ordinary as talking to other people can be so intimidating, I do know I'm not alone. Many people suffer anxiety over simple social situations, including talking on the phone. While I still get nervous from time to time, I've come a long way from when I was too petrified to talk in front of a group or schedule an appointment over the phone. If this had happened when I was younger, I don't know if I would have been able to raise my hand during the lecture. For those who may be able to relate, I encourage you to speak up, even if you're intimidated. If you want or need to communicate a thought, question, or idea, don't allow fear to prevent you from expressing yourself. We all deserve to feel comfortable conversing with the people around us, and if we don't, we can only learn confidence through practice. By speaking up for yourself, your courage might also empower someone else to raise their hand.

Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.