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Public speaking anxiety linked with childhood trauma?

M

Mais

New member
Joined
May 31, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Montpellier
Hi everyone! I'll try to make it short

I grew up in France and was bullied there back in primary school. As a result I kinda closed myself off from people and became very 'cold' even though it's not my real personality. I started learning other languages (including English) to find my true self back and find that sense of belonging I didn't really feel while growing up. I then got the opportunity to go to an international high school in France and met very open-minded people from all around the world and my mind started associating English with tolerance and 'freedom'. Learning languages was like a rebirth for me because it allowed me to 'start again from scratch'. I regained the self-confidence that had been destroyed by years of bullying... but this is only when I speak a language that is NOT French.
Even though French is my native tongue, I realize there are things I want to say but cannot due to the childhood trauma. Before opening my mouth in France, I anticipate all the criticism and the negative looks of people and start panicking.
I am much more confident and feel free to express my views in English even though I am not a native speaker.

How can I get over this?

I am 18 now and in a little less than a year, I will have crucial oral exams (in French) as part of the entry requirements for business schools. I didn't really think of this as a problem since I had somehow learnt to live with the trauma... But now the trauma is getting between me and my dreams.
 
Tawny

Tawny

Well-known member
Forum Guide
Joined
Nov 10, 2019
Messages
1,023
Location
England
That is very interesting and not something i have heard of before. Surely you are you, no matter what language you speak in. The French and English, are they that different? I know two French families and they seem very nice, if a little more formal, although that is only two families!

Bullying must have been hard, i did not experience that either. Were you quiet and nervous growing up also? I would rather have been bullied than have been a bully. Did you ever react to the bullies verbally or physically or just internalise it all?
 
M

Mais

New member
Joined
May 31, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Montpellier
French and English are definetely different but I think it's more related to the cultures they carry. In my opinion, in France there is a huge emphasis on conformity and so everything that stands out (in a good or a bad way) is frowned upon. The weight of history is heavy in Europe whereas I think that the American identity is 'broader' in the sense that it accepts people from very different backgrounds (Asian-Americans sare Asian AND American for example). In France, you often have to give up parts of who you are in you don't want to be treated as an outsider.
I think I've always been reserved and very 'aware' of the outside world if I can put it that way. From a very very young age, I was extremely cautious with the words I used so as not to hurt people... As years went by, my shyness made me become quiet. Instead of opening up to people after getting to know them, I only opened up to people who appeared trustworthy. After being stabbed in the back numerous times i couldn't trust people anymore so I stopped talking since it seemed useless anyway.
I never ever reacted to bullies. It might sound stupid, but I was always scared of hurting their feelings so I never said anything even though they were in the wrong. I internalized all of their negative words which is why, I think, it had such an impact on me and my sense of self-worth .
 
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