Youth Counselling

I feel inferior and embarrassed

I am a boy of 16 and have just entered college. My problem is that though I have a good knowledge of English, and my vocabulary is good, I am not able to express myself fluently. Whenever I have to reply in English, I end up saying something which I never wanted to say, due to nervousness. Sometimes I speak other languages along with English. I feel this degrades my self-esteem, and I feel inferior to those who speak English well. It is one of the reasons why I don’t approach others and make friends easily; I am not able to mix with girls either. When this happens, mainly in front of girls, I feel very embarrassed.

Dear Rishi,

Your nervousness and lack of fluency while speaking English causes in you both frustration and embarrassment. Spoken expression in a language is always done in a social setting, which makes it more difficult than writing because of the fear of ridicule from others.

We feel nervous and self-conscious when we seek others’ approval… and we do this because somewhere we don’t approve of ourselves; our self-esteem is low. So, instead of wanting to be perfect, help yourself by changing your mindset from “I want to be perfect and competent” to “I am constantly learning,” “I learn from my mistakes,” and “It is okay to make mistakes.” This will make you feel free from within and slowly you will begin to enjoy speaking.

Fluency in a language comes with preparation, rehearsal and practice. So, make it creative: Join a public speaking class; Find friends who are fluent, who will helpfully correct you. Watch more English movies; Write a speech and deliver it in front of your mirror, then to a small circle, then to a larger circle…later, try an extempore speech; Take up a topic from the news and in front of your mirror speak for and against it; Take two chairs and play the roles of two different people… as you have a dialogue change your chair. Once you let go your self-consciousness, your focus will be off your mistakes, and you will begin to enjoy interactions!