For most people, winning a free guitar, getting free tickets to a concert, and getting to go up on stage to receive said guitar, would be a dream come true or at least a very exciting moment. For me, it was neither. I was terrified. It was probably one of the worst days of my life, or at least it felt that way at the time.
The Phone Call
On the morning of April 22, 2010, I was lying in my bed waiting for my mom to come open my door to let me know that it was time to get up. It wasn’t unusual. I often stayed in bed, even though I was awake, until my mom came to “wake” me up.
This morning, however, she came early. I was still half asleep, although mostly awake.
“You have a phone call.”
That may or may not have been her exact words, but nevertheless she told me someone was on the phone for me. I didn’t have a cell phone at that time, so they couldn’t phone my cell. I also rarely got phone calls, so I was very confused.
I anxiously made my way up the stairs to answer the phone. You see, I hated talking on the phone. I also had no idea who was on the other end. My heart was pounding and my thoughts were racing. Who could it be? What did they want?
“Hello?” I groggily answered.
“Hello, Angela. I’m Kyle Rudge from Ignite107. Did you just get up?”
“You are the winner of a free Newsboys guitar.”
My stomach dropped. Not because I was excited, but because as I said earlier I was terrified.
He went on to ask me if I had tickets to the concert that evening and I said no. He proceeded to give me his number so I could contact him once we got to the MTS Centre and he could give me and my mom tickets to the concert.
I shakily wrote down his number and hung up.
That wasn’t the conversation exactly, but you get the idea. I had completely forgotten I had entered that contest and at that moment, I badly regretted it.
Trying to Survive
After hanging up the phone, and probably during the phone call itself, I felt sick to my stomach. I told my mom what the call was about and then proceeded to try to get ready for school.
At that time, I usually didn’t eat a huge breakfast and because my stomach was in knots, I knew there was no point in trying to eat much. I grabbed a banana and attempted to eat it. I gagged a few times, but was able to get it down. Shortly after, though, I could feel it coming back up and threw up into the kitchen sink. I didn’t try to eat anything else.
I was in grade 12 when this all went down and I only had one class that semester which was first thing in the morning. So I went to class and I told my friend who sat beside me in class about winning a Newsboys guitar. She was excited for me and I pretended to be excited. What I really wanted to do was go home, lock myself in my room, and pretend the world didn’t exist.
I was able to get through class, but I felt sick the whole time.
At home, I could hardly eat lunch because my stomach was still in knots. My mom made soup and I got down maybe half a bowl.
In the afternoon, I got my grad dress hemmed, but my thoughts never strayed much further than my fear for that evening.
When the evening finally came, my mom and I drove to Winnipeg to the concert. The closer we got to the arena, the sicker I felt. Dread had wrapped itself around me.
My mom parked the car; I got out shakily and immediately proceeded to throw up whatever was left in my stomach. It subsided long enough for me to step up to a garbage can and empty my already empty stomach.
Once we got inside the arena, I used my mom’s cell phone to call the radio DJ to get our tickets. He commented on how I sounded; something about how tired I sounded or something like that. I wasn’t tired, I was petrified.
Several minutes later, he found us and gave us our tickets and gave us the rundown on how the evening would go; when to come down, where I should meet him, etc.
We found our seats, all the time wishing I could just be done with it already.
There were two opening bands and after the first one was done, I made my way to the section I was instructed to go to. The radio DJ met me there and we walked down to the side of the stage and introduced me to another radio DJ from a partner station that they did the contest with.
They conversed with me which helped put me a little at ease. I was still terrified, but not nearly as much, knowing these people were friendly.
When the time came, I followed the radio hosts on stage. The one who had phoned me and met me at the arena, gave a little speech and joked about how “excited” I was. I even laughed a little or at least smiled, albeit nervously.
They handed me the guitar and people clapped and cheered.
Once we got off stage, the radio host told me that he was going to get the guitar signed by the Newsboys and would hold onto it until the end of the concert so I didn’t have to carry it to my seat.
So it wasn’t over yet.
After the concert, I met him again and he gave me the guitar and my mom being my mom, had to take pictures of him, me, and the guitar.
Once we finally got the guitar to our car, I could finally relax. My mom couldn’t because she had to deal with traffic. I simply turned on the radio to game 5 of the NHL playoffs in which my favourite team, the Ottawa Senators, were playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. I was able to turn in just in time to hear it go to overtime and as it went to three overtime periods, I was able to get home to watch my team score the winning goal. I could finally relax and focus on something that I enjoyed.
If you had asked me why I was so petrified that day, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. I still can’t tell you exactly what made me so anxious, but I have a better idea.
About 19 months after that day, I had my first appointment with a mental health worker. After talking with her and answering her questions, she told me that I had a mild case of social anxiety.
As I researched social anxiety after that appointment, it was like a lightning bolt striking me. I saw myself in almost every symptom and occasion where people experienced social anxiety.
I started looking back at moments in my life, realizing that social anxiety has plagued me most of my life.
The day I won that Newsboys guitar was one of them – probably when my symptoms were the worst.
I was probably excited about that day but I didn’t feel it at the time.
My mental health worker explained it the best. At lot of people would get excited and have a little bit of anxiety with it, but the excitement would overshadow the anxiety. However, when I would get a little bit excited, my anxiety would explode and mask the excitement.
My social anxiety is not gone. I still have my moments. But they are not as severe and it doesn’t control me as often.
So if I were to go back and experience that day now, it would probably look a lot different. I would probably be able to enjoy it more and might have actually felt my excitement.