Abu Dhabi teacher conquers childhood fear

“Why would you want to sing on stage?”

“You can’t be frightened about singing on stage at the school concert – Are you sure you’re a teacher?”

These were just a few questions that were directed at Liam Kelly as he took to the stage to kick off his Worried William Series of Worrying Events. The concert was the first of 12 events that the teacher hopes to complete in 2019 to conquer his childhood fears while increasing awareness about anxiety in children.

“When I first thought about the series of events, I felt embarrassed to admit that I always wanted to sing on stage when I was a child to make my mum proud,” Liam said.

“At school, I had a really bad experience because I had a slight stammer and couldn’t pronounce some of my words. It was during English class and I was told to stand up and read out a page of the class book. It took me by surprise and I can still remember struggling to say the word ‘look’. This memory has stayed with me all my life, not only because I struggled to say the word, but because it was the first time I had invisible tears. Everyone was looking at me and laughing, and I was crying my eyes out inside.”

From that moment on, Liam was too afraid to get on stage or speak in public, until just a few years ago when he developed the courage to speak up about his challenges as a child.

After publishing his book, Worried William, to create awareness about other children’s similar experiences and feelings of fear, Liam wanted to go a step further and address his own fears as an adult by singing on stage with FS1 and FS2 students from Diyafah International School.

“All through the songs, I was free and felt so proud,” Liam said. “I had invisible tears like I did years ago, but this time they were happy ones. The only thing that was missing from the event was my amazing mum sitting in the front row.

“After the performance, I felt amazing and won’t feel as frightened the next time,” he continued.

“I truly believe that we should never dismiss someone’s fears. Instead of saying ‘You’ll be fine’, we should understand and empathise and then offer help.”

Liam’s next event in the series will see him ride the world’s fastest rollercoaster on 1st March at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. To follow his progress, visit: facebook.com/worriedwilliam

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