I’m not a good talker. I like conversations, but I am not a serial “conversationalist”. If given a choice, I would prefer to listen, read, and observe things and write what I see everyday.
But, that’s not how the world operates. You have to talk if you need help, to explain things that people do not understand, and to blend in with the human race.
I am a stutterer. Many people who know me understand that I will fumble over words and phrases awkwardly. I prefer not to talk, unless I need to say something.
Which brings up the topic of Marshawn Lynch. Lynch, a star running back for the Seattle Seahawks, have become a storm of controversy, as if there isn’t enough controversy around pro football these days, for his “combative” nature in refusing to answer questions from the media during press conferences.
Various reports have said that Lynch battles anxiety attacks when pressed to speak to people. Lynch’s approach to all of this is to sound combative, to the level of being dismissive when he is peppered with questions by the press.
The story of Duane Thomas and his awkward exchange with Tom Brookshier brings back uneasy memories.
I don’t have an opinion of Lynch, but I do know what it is like to fear public speaking and anxiety.
Public speaking feels like walking down death row for many people, such as myself. Growing up, I hated to talk, because I was ashamed of my stuttering. As much as I wanted to voice my opinion, say something informative, or approach a girl, it was a virtual hell for me.
Years of speech therapy did help in some areas, but sooner or later, I would have to figure the rest of it out on my own: learning how to start a conversation, using the phone to order pizza, ask a receptionist for directions, to name a few.
I found public speaking to be tolerable: typing what I am going to say, rehearsing it, and reading it in front of a large crowd. I use a few tricks to help me get through it.
My advice to Lynch, the Seahawks, and the NFL is this: if he does have an anxiety disorder, then get help for it now, and address it to the public. The better the public knows about it from Marshawn Lynch, the more they are willing to give him a break.
If he does not have anxiety problems and this is mere insubordination on his part, he need to stop playing games with people. If Lynch is using anxiety as an excuse to blow off doing interviews (so far, it has not been confirmed by a doctor if he indeed has an anxiety disorder), then he is insulting and embarrassing the people who actually do battle with social anxiety disorder.
There’s no way getting around that.
If he allegedly did not have a problem with speaking during his time at Buffalo, what changed now with him in Seattle?
No wonder why the media is bashing him, fair or not. I don’t hate Lynch the person. I am disappointed in how he is handling this, and I blame the people around him, including the Seahawks, for not helping him learn how to deal with public speaking in spite of his anxiety.
By not addressing his anxiety, Lynch and the Seahawks open themselves up to criticism about him, his behavior, and who he is as a person.
All of this can be resolved…if everyone would stop pointing fingers at each other.
Here’s one simple resolution: if Lynch is consistently uncomfortable speaking due to his anxiety disorder, the NFL and the Seahawks have to make concessions and not force Lynch not to do mandatory press conferences. The same needs to be applied to players and coaches, not named Bill Belichick, who do have legitimate documented cases of social anxiety disorder.
In return, Lynch has to willingly seek help to treat his anxiety and work on adapting ways to deal with his fear of public speaking. If the NFL and Seattle have to accommodate Lynch in some form, then he has to get help on working to conquer his anxiety problems.
I had to learn how to speak and have conversations with people, in spite of my anxiety. I can choose not to talk, but no one is going to change their environment to accommodate me when I demand it for my self-interest.
This is a controversy should have never developed into a what it is, along with the New England Patriots being accused of deflating footballs to gain an advantage.
In the end, it’s on Marshawn Lynch to help himself conquer his fear of public speaking.
No one is going to fix it for him, unless he’s willing to do so himself.