The big day had arrived. I had been interviewed as a volunteer counsellor and had been accepted. Finally, the day of the workshop came, the kind where you don’t know you collapse until it’s all over. When I least expected it, I suffered one of those notable attacks of anxiety, before a group of total strangers. It happened during an innocent role playing activity, the kind I sought so hard to avoid. What everyone else saw as a mere exercise, loomed large as a life-threatening situation.

I had the misfortune of playing the role of a supposed “wise and experienced” counselor while applying some newly learned therapeutic techniques. I felt like an oxymoron. As was my custom — when it came to dramatization — I went into a tail spin and crashed. My mind went foggy. I felt rigidly self-conscious, insecure and defeated even before I began. It was altogether disorienting.

Nevertheless, when leaving the workshop, I sensed a strange combination of relief and exhaustion. Although my temples pulsated with a dull ache, what surprised me was my ability to reframe the event. I became acutely aware how altered I felt. Before I would feel the urgent need to defend my blundering performance; write the supervisor a long e-mail to apologize and all sorts of other gymnastics, but this time I felt an inexplicable calm. This time I accepted my actions knowing I had done my best in spite of torped fits of momentary panic.

~ vincenzo