January theme: Fear can paralyse you, but overcoming it can truly set you free.
Stuck on Stage
‘I didn't like it ... I loved it!’ announced Simon with a grin. ‘You are definitely one to watch this season,’ exclaimed Sharon. My heart was about to explode with excitement when each of the four judges gave me a yes on my X-Factor audition. It only felt like yesterday when I was stuck to the stage shaking with nerves at my school play rehearsals.
Seven years ago …
‘Alright kids, listen up,’ croaked Mrs Chester's voice. Mrs Chester was the Drama and Choir teacher. A middle-aged woman dressed in the 60's. However, she was a very kind teacher and that made up for her crazy fashion. ‘I have chosen parts for the play and the singing solos,’ explained Mrs Chester. ‘Starting with singing solos we have: Noah Brook, Tracy McPie, Maddie Loyde and …
I crouched in the crowd, hoping it wasn't going to be me. Even though I love to sing, I hate performing in front of people.
‘Fraya Willford,’ announced Mrs Chester. Leah my friend nudged me in my ribs. ‘Ow! Wait, who did she pick?’ I blurted out. ‘She picked you! Silly!’ Leah responded. I didn't hear her as I was on my usual train of thought. ‘No way,’ I started to tremble. The thought of singing in front of the entire school made my throat dry and tight. My pale, white hands started to shake. ‘Hey, you're gonna be great,’ reassured Leah.
After class, I walked up to my mum’s car. ‘Hey Hun, how was school?’ Mum asked cheerfully. I attempted to swallow but my throat closed up. That made me choke and sound like a dying frog – which answered my mum’s question. ‘Oh, honey! What's wrong?!’ She asked with concern.
At dinner, I explained it all. ‘Oh sweetie, that's amazing! You're brilliant at singing!’ chirped Mum. ‘Good job Fraya,’ added Dad, just before scoffing down some scrambled egg. ‘Thanks, but I don't want to do it,’ I mumbled under my breath. ‘What? Come on petals you can do it,’ Mum said with a frown. ‘Mrs Lester wouldn't have picked you if she thought you were bad,’ protested Dad. "It's Mrs Chester, Dad!" I giggled.
It was the day of the rehearsals. We were on stage – me and the other solo singers who didn't look even a tad nervous. I, on the other hand, was basically having a panic attack. ‘You ok Fraya?’ asked Tracy McPie, looking at me strangely. ‘Yeah fine,’ I lied.
‘Next is Fraya,’ called Mrs Chester. I stood up with jelly legs and wobbled over to the microphone. I closed my eyes for a second. In that second I imagined that I was in my room belting a song out like I did every evening. I opened my eyes and my mouth.
A strong, beautiful voice came out my mouth. Everyone went silent and looked around like it wasn't me. I was surprised myself. It was as if the singing gods gave me their voice.
It was that voice and that one second of thought that later brought me to X-Factor.
Ciara O'Brien, 6th class, Scoil Mhuire Réalt na Mara, Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow.
I felt nervous as I walked through the main doors of Scoil Mhuire, my new secondary school.
I made my way to my form room. I felt a lump rising in my throat. I looked for the nearest bathroom. I had frozen.
Someone called out “Move it, kid!!”
“Oh, sorry,” I mumbled.
I turned the corner. There was a bathroom right across from my form room. But then, a thought hit me. Why hide from my fear, when I really should just face it and forget my anxiety and get on with life.
So, forgetting my anxiety, I walked to my form door, took a deep breath and pushed open the door.
Instantly, the room was quiet.
“Um ... Hi”. I took a deep breath, ‘forget your fear’ I thought. “My name’s Nick, do you mind if I sit down?”
Now, I’m in 4th year/TY and I got over my fear. I’ve learned that fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself as per JK Rowling in Harry Potter.
I’ve forgotten my fear, whatever it was.
By Emily Tully, 6th Class, St. Mary’s Primary School, Trim, Meath.
A day at the office
When Jim stepped into the office that day he had no idea what lay ahead of him. It was bring your child to work day and he had brought his 11-year-old son Patrick. Patrick had extra pancakes that morning and then the car broke down on the way to work. When they finally got the car up and running they were caught in traffic. Half an hour later they made it to work.
‘What time do you call this?’ said his boss Tom. Tom was very funny and got on very well with everyone in the office but he was very punctual and expected everyone else to be so.
’Harry’ exclaimed Patrick. Harry was Tom`s son and was friends with Patrick from school. Harry had been very good to Patrick since Patrick had broken his leg and was often seen carrying his books for him.
‘Sorry Tom” said Jim’ the car broke down again’ ‘That old banger when will you get rid of it. To be honest with you I`m surprised it hasn't fallen apart yet’ joked Tom. Jim smiled but didn't reply. Jim liked the old car because it was big and Jim wouldn't be seen dead in any fancy sports car.
“Anyway,” said Tom grinning from ear to ear ‘we've won a prize! Apparently, we`re one of the best accountants in Ireland!’. And soon he was smiling as if he had won the lottery ‘But” said Tom frowning now, I have other news. It was a tough competition but after this morning I've decided. It breaks my heart to say this but I`m going to have to say this ... you`re …”
Oh, oh thought Jim. Jim knew what word came next. It was FIRED.
‘Getting a pay raise! You need the money to buy a car!’ laughed Tom. And now Jim smiled truly. Nothing could ruin his day now.
After a small party in the office [Tom opened a bottle of wine] they made a toast to Jim for working so hard lately.
Suddenly, Patrick came up to me. ‘Dad’ he said ‘I need to go to the toilet.’ “Come on so’ I said leading him to the stairs. ‘Dad I can't,’ he said indicating his crutches. ‘We'll have to go up in the elevator.’ He was already pressing the button. ‘Dad I don`t know where the toilet is, remember’ said Patrick going in. So I rushed in just before the door closed realising my mistake too late.
Suddenly the broke down. ‘We`ll have it fixed in a couple of minutes don`t worry’ said Tom`s voice, but I barely heard. I was too scared. I had claustrophobia. But whimpering in the corner woke me up. ‘Dad’ said Patrick I`m scared.” 'Do you want to hear a story? I asked. He nodded. A couple of minutes later we were taken out. “Are you okay,” asked Tom. “Nothing life threatening’ said Jim smiling at Patrick, who smiled back.
By Paddy Moran, Blennerville NS, Co. Kerry.
The Girl Who Was Afraid of People
There was a girl who was afraid of talking. There was a girl who was afraid of people. There was a girl who was scared of the world. But that girl is gone. That girl is me. I'm not like that anymore.
It was a day like any other. The school bell rang. Everyone rushed up the little steps of the school and went to their classrooms, all talking about their latest posts on Snapchat and Justin Bieber's new songs. I was behind them, listening. One of the girls from the group turned her head and saw me. They began muttering stuff like: "Oh, here's the depressed girl again!" and then I heard a roar of laughter.
I felt some tears running down my cheeks. I have always wondered why I was afraid of speaking to others. But one day when I tried talking, the words just wouldn't come, and the girls were looking at me awkwardly. I had run away in embarrassment.
I was in class. Ms.Murphy clapped her hands. "Class, we have a new girl in our class. Emma is her name."
She had blonde hair that reached her shoulders, blue eyes, and a joyful smile. I thought she would be such a good friend. But I knew I'd never have the courage to go up to her and greet her. She'd probably rather go to the girls who laughed at me that morning. They were cooler.
It was break-time. I sat on the bench in the yard and took out a book from my bag. I began to read. I looked up and saw Emma with the girls I expected her to be with. They were laughing, but Emma was standing there with her hands in her pockets. Emma looked around herself and caught my eye. I immediately continued reading my book.
Suddenly, I saw that Emma was standing before me, and smiled at me.
"Hello," she said sweetly.
"Hello," I said.
Emma smiled. "What's your name?"
"Amber," I smiled.
"Emma," she said.
"What are you reading?"
"Jane Eyre," I said. I was lured into Emma's sweet way of talking, and I was so intrigued by the idea that she actually came up to me to talk with me.
"I read it - it's great!" Emma said.
I nodded. "Why are you here? Weren't you with the other group?"
"They are no fun. All they talk about are celebrities and boyfriends. I'm not interested in that stuff. I love books."
"Really? I love books!" I exclaimed, and then my cheeks turned a bright scarlet when Emma laughed.
We talked about how similar we were: and that continued on for weeks, months - and we became friends. Best friends. The best of friends. Thanks to Emma, I had got over the fear of people, and, soon, I found myself having my own group of friends, and I like them all. But as I look at them individually in my head, I see my most favourite person on Earth – Emma.
By Daniela Rana, 6th Class, St Joseph's NS, Co. Longford.
I looked up. Mrs Goldsmith repeated it. “We are going to be having swimming lessons at the local pool from next Tuesday on!” she said. No. Just NO. This can’t be happening to me …
I’m sitting in the back of the car shivering with excitement. I always loved swimming. My little sister is sitting beside me gurgling happily. She is one year old next week but she hasn’t a clue where we’re going or what’s happening next Friday. We’ve arrived, and I’m really excited. I quickly get changed and jump into the pool. A lifeguard scowls at me but I don’t care. It’s just me and the glistening pool water.
Suddenly I hear something. Muffled, because my ears are underwater, but definitely something. Then I realise it’s my sister. It all happened so fast. I saw her at the bottom of the pool, eyes closed, Mum screaming … I couldn’t take it. Dad plunged himself to the bottom, my sister spluttering and coughing. I was so relieved.
BY Éabha Healy, Rang 4, Gaelscoil Iosef Naofa, Mágh, Co. Clare.
How it all turned out
Everyone has that fear inside of them. My fear was school.
One day my mother, sister and I moved to a different county, my father had left us a couple of years ago.
It was coming up to the first day at school. In this new school, I was going to be in sixth class.
I woke up the next morning and got ready for school. I ate my breakfast and my mother dropped me off at the new school. When I got to the gate I could see a bunch of girls and boys in the yard playing games.
A few weeks into school and I was hating it already.
After a month I started getting bullied by a lad in my class called Adam. He was skitting me and harassing me. I thought it might have been because I had no father.
One of my friends called James was worried about me, so he asked me what was wrong. I told him I was getting bullied by a lad in our class. I didn’t tell him who it was because Adam had told me if I told anyone he would beat me up.
James found out who it was and told our principal about it.
I was angry at him for a while but then I thanked him, because if it wasn’t for him I would still be bullied to this day.
After Adam stopped bullying me I started liking school again because I wasn’t getting harassed anymore.
By Andre Carvalho, Holy Family BNS, Askea, Co. Carlow.
“Hi” I’m Ethan. I would love to be a lifeguard in the future, but the only problem is that I have a fear of water. “How could I possibly be a lifeguard there’s no hope”. When I was small I loved water. But after the accident, it all changed. Once I, my little brother and my mum went down the sea and went into the water. Joe just got swept away by the tide. He was so far out that I had to run and get the lifeguards. The lifeguards launched the Jet Ski and went to get Joe. Joe was barely still alive and was in intensive care. I was shaking with fear.They were the worst few days of my life, having the thought of losing my little brother. It was horrendous. It was like Joe was swallowed up by the tide; from that moment on I knew I wanted to be a lifeguard saving lives.
That was how the fear began.I didn't want to let it stop me, and miss out on the exciting activities the other kids do.
But, I am determined to beat this fear and win this battle. Many people think it will be simple but it’s not as easy as they think. My family is very supportive. If only other people could do the same. In school, a few people tease me because I am frightened of the water and it has really knocked my confidence lately. I hope they don’t go to the same secondary school as me.
Tomorrow I am going to try out for a lifesaving course. I’m already really nervous.But I am going to do it or else my dream won’t come true to be a lifeguard.
It was hard and terrifying at first, but when I overcame the fear. It was fantastic, it was amazing, and it was brilliant. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I’m just disappointed that I didn’t do it earlier.
I’m now in a surf school and it’s so much fun. Now I’m a step closer to being a lifeguard.
My advice to others would be – don’t let fear control you, you control the fear.
Éabha Siún Fleming, Scoil Mhuire Realt na Mara, Brittas Bay, Co.Wicklow.
I woke up in the morning on a dull 2016 day, back in January. I was just about to put on my school trousers when it hit me, a rising nauseous feeling with my heart racing like a rocket, taking quick sharp breaths. Anxiety, that’s what it was called, and I had no idea. I ran downstairs and told my parents everything. I could tell they were worried. I stayed off school that day. The next night, I had a panic attack, unbeknownst to me. I was so scared, and I thought I was going to die.
When I finally went back to school, it felt strange. I didn’t have the same confidence I used to have, it was all different. It didn’t help that during this time my mother was suffering from breast cancer, and would have to go into chemotherapy.
For a few months, I was REALLY down, and I got lots of attacks. Mammy and Daddy brought me to a lady who could help, and since then, I‘ve been able to control my anxiety. What’s EVEN BETTER is my mammy’s cancer is gone, so in the space of a year all the bad things that happened to me stopped.
It’s now 2017, and while I still have anxiety, I know how to stop it from overcoming me. One thing people always told me was that when I had anxiety that I can’t let it control me.
When I had anxiety, I liked to write to calm me down, which is why I have tons of copybooks filled with stories. My advice to anyone who suffers from anxiety, or is going through something bad is this: “Fear can paralyze you, but overcome it, and you’ll be set free.”
This is based on true events in my life
Will MacInnes, 6th Class, St Riaghan’s NS, Drimnacrosh, Co. Donegal.
The Day I got a Friend
There I was at the back of the class like always, then suddenly the bell rang and school was over. I walked out the door and there they were like every day, waiting for me to come out of the classroom – Alisa and Anna. They always say mean things about me, that my family is poor, I wasn’t up to date in fashion and that I had no friends.
As I walked closer I saw them grinning, pointing and laughing. I tried to ignore them and walked out the door. They ran after me, pulled me back and started saying mean things. I ran and ran to get home where they couldn’t bully me anymore. Then as I ran past the neighbour’s house I saw removal vans going up the driveway. "New neighbours,” I thought to myself.
I carried on and walked up the driveway to my house. My mum was there making dinner. She heard the door open and shouted to me, “how was school dear?" “Fine thanks Mum." I ran upstairs and dumped my bag on my bed. Suddenly the doorbell rang; I ran downstairs and opened the door as my mum came walking out of the kitchen.
It was a woman and a girl. The woman said her name was Annabell and her daughter’s name was Tracy. My mum and Annabell started talking. Annabell asked if I would walk to school with Tracy. Of course, my mum being my mum said, “Yes, of course.”
So I walked to school with Tracy, we started talking and became good friends. I told her about Alisa and Anna. Tracy being my friend now said, "I won’t let this happen anymore. We are going to stand up to Alisa and Anna!!!”
We walked into the school and there they were, Alisa and Anna, laughing and grinning as usual. Tracy asked if it was them. I whispered back, “yeah it is.” Suddenly Tracy grabbed my hand and pulled me towards Alisa and Anna. Tracy shouted and shouted at them and I had to join in.
Alisa and Anna just walked away sighing. I was so happy! I felt that I had overcome all this bullying. From that day on Alisa and Anna never bullied me again – all because I made a new friend.
By Aisling Hoban, 6th class, Fahy NS, Westport, Co Mayo.
I walked in the gates for the first time. I couldn’t believe that after the whole summer holidays this daunting moment was already here. My hands were shaking and I could hear my heart beating. Secondary school, the thing I have been avoiding for so long. Most people say its fine, that it's something scary that everybody goes through but you’ll settle in after a while. But not for me, I’m different. I’m somebody that stands out from the crowd, someone that people will remember. But I’m not sure if I want them to.
It all started when I was really small, so small I barely have any recollection of it at all. I just remember going to the hospital now and again, to meet someone called a therapist, who would help me. At that age, the only thing that baffled me was why I needed help. It only properly hit me, when to my dismay, I had to leave my Mom’s side and start in juniors. Everybody around me was talking, shouting and laughing like they were having the time of their lives. But soon enough, I found myself sitting in a corner on my own, starting to get lonely. I began to realise I couldn’t keep up with everyone else. I couldn’t get my words out quickly enough. I knew what I wanted to say, I just couldn’t comprehend how to get it out. When I was a bit older, I was told I had a stammer. Something that made me different in my own special way. I wish I still believed that now.
As the years went on I started to get used to my “difference.” People were always really nice to me, but I couldn’t help feeling it was insincere. It was like they took pity on me, which is something I really didn’t want. I’ve always said I’d rather have no friends at all than fake ones. And to this day I still believe in that.
So as I walk into this new school for the first time, thinking these exact thoughts I’ve come to realise that maybe being different is good. It’s not about what differences you have; it’s about how you use them. Having something that makes you special is good because if we didn’t there would be no individuality and nothing to make you unique. I walk in the door with a newly found spring in my step. A new school, and a new start. And right now, that’s exactly what I need.
By Sorcha O’ Donoghue, 6th class, St Brendan’s NS, Blennerville, Co. Kerry.
Roller Coaster Scare
I woke up with the worst feeling in my stomach because I knew that today was going to be the worst day of my life.When my mammy called me for breakfast I hid under my covers, then she came up to me and told me to get up and get dressed and she said that Jenny my friend would be here in a half an hour.
I was waiting in the sitting room for Jenny to come when my mammy came in to tell me that there was a new roller coaster in the theme park, that was when I felt like dying.Then there was a honk it was Jenny's mammy so I raced out to the car.
When we were in the car all I could think about was how much I didn’t want to go on any roller coasters.Jenny was so excited about going on the roller coasters she was like I'm going on the lightning coaster and the rafter water coaster and much more.I was so scared.
When we arrived Jenny raced to the gate while I was like a snail behind her.Finally, we got in and I saw the roller coasters. I died of fear. I said to Jenny, 'let’s get something to eat first.' She said, 'after we go on every roller coaster.' We got in the line for the first roller coaster and I said I needed to go to the bathroom. Jenny said 'no,' because the line was moving.We were almost there whenIi tried another excuse saying that I left my tokens with Jennys mammy. Jenny said, 'it’s okay you can use my tokens.' 'Okay,' I said sadly.
We finally got to the top of the line and it was our go on the roller coaster.The cart came up and Jenny got in while I stood there paralysed in fear, about to cry. Jenny said, 'come on,' but all I did was stand there with tears in my eyes because I was so scared.Jenny finally realized what was happening. She said to me, 'You're scared aren't you?' That is when I finally admitted the truth. 'Yes I am scared, I'm scared of roller coasters,' I said.
Jenny got up and tried to comfort me by saying it was okay. 'If I hold on to you will you go on it, but if you don't want to we can go on something else.'I said I would give it a try. I slowly got in the cart with Jenny and I closed my eyes so hard when the ride started.
Half-way through the ride I opened my eyes and Jenny was still holding on to me. I started to enjoy the ride. I wasn’t scared anymore.When the ride ended I was so happy that I had overcome my fear. Jenny hugged me and said she was so happy that I wasn’t scared anymore and asked me if I wanted to go on any more rides. I said 'Yes,' and we went on them all. I had a great time and was so happy that I was free from the fear of roller coasters.
By Niamh Rooney, Scoil Bhride, Clara, Co.Offaly.