Parliament party banished the nerves  

Young Adviser Lewis on overcoming fear

Lewis standing on the stairs of the Scottish Parliament holding the numbers "18".
Young Adviser Lewis on the stair entrance of the Scottish Parliament

Fear. It rules most people. They live by it, they conform to it. Yet, it’s always fun to stretch the boundaries and step outside of the walls of your comfort zone. I stepped out of my comfort zone on the 18th birthday of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland office. Me and another Young Adviser, Paige, had to welcome everyone to the party – which was being held in the Scottish Parliament – and also introduce the three Children’s Commissioners. I was extremely nervous to speak in front of so many people, and yet I still did it.  

It all started when the Young Advisers were in a Zoom meeting. We were told about the stalls, the people attending, and the reason for the party. At the end, Kevin, the Participation Officer, mentioned a Young Adviser was needed for a speaking role. I thought about putting myself forward. And the thought stuck. So I messaged Kevin. I didn’t think I’d get it, but I prepared myself by saying it was a good way to expand. The office had helped me expand before, so surely it wouldn’t be too bad to expand my comfort zone again with them?  

When I found out I was chosen alongside Paige to do the speaking, dread washed over me. I was happy to have been chosen, sure, but I wasn’t fully ready for “public” speaking. I wasn’t even fully comfortable speaking out in class, and here I was speaking at Parliament in front of MSPs, children’s rights experts, and other young people. I was tempted to tell Kevin that I wanted to pull out, that I wanted to just forget that I had even put my name down. But I remembered how I felt after I stood out of my comfort zone before. You’ll never know how it’ll end up until you do it. It’s a leap of how far you want to go, of how much you trust yourself to go. 

On the day of the birthday, Commissioner Bruce brought Paige and I into Parliament to prepare and reality sunk in. I was really nervous; I was worried that I would mess something up on such a big day in such an important place. Paige and I practised and practised. 

And then it was time. We welcomed everyone and introduced the previous Children’s Commissioners, Professor Kathleen Marshall and Tam Baillie. To my surprise, things were going rather smoothly. It really made me realise that I was doing the right thing by leaping into the unknown. And even when I deviated from the script, I managed to get back on track. Throughout the event, I was given many congratulations. These all helped to encourage me to widen my comfort zone, and that has stuck with me. I do more speaking out in class; I feel as though I take more of a lead in clubs and events.  

Comfort zones aren’t a hard wall that you can’t change. They’re moulding clay, ready to be shaped and stretched however you desire it to be. You can go out of it and come back in, exploring new ways to stretch it. It’s a leap of faith, that’s all. 

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