The Elf Without A Brain

I’ve never been good at handling a crisis, ever. It’s not one of my skills, and I’m aware of that. When my mother is shoved into a crisis, she immediately figures out the best way to handle everything, tells everyone to shut-up, and has the whole situation resolved in 20 minutes. I, on the other hand, go brain dead, and I’m not really sure why.

Most of the time, I’m a fairly intelligent person with a normal, working, human brain, but as soon as something that I’ve planned goes wrong, my normal, working, human brain just shuts off for no reason at all. You see, I’m a planner; I plan out every single day. I’m obsessed with my planner, and if something goes wrong, I don’t know what to do and generally have a mild panic attack.

When I was in 2nd grade, the 2nd and 3rd graders were going to do their winter concert together. Our teacher wanted to make it more fun for everyone, so there were going to be six elves and six Christmas trees. The six elves were being picked from the 2nd grade. I’ve also always been a performer and a little obsessed with attention, so naturally, I tried out to be an elf (I don’t really remember what “trying out” entailed, but I do remember being really scared). I was the new kid at school that year, so being picked out of everyone to be one of the six elves in the Christmas concert was a pretty freakin’ big deal if I do say so myself.

On the day of the concert, we were performing in the High School. Our choir teacher got all of the elves and Christmas trees ready in another room next to the High School gym so that we wouldn’t forget any of our props. As elves, all we had to do was remember to bring our Christmas tree decorations into the lunch room, so that we could decorate the Christmas tree that we were assigned to while we sang (I was assigned to my best friend who was in 3rd grade at the time, so we pretty much ran around being crazy the whole hour before the concert excited about me getting to decorate her).

Once we had all walked out into the gym single file, we began to sing and decorate the trees. At that point, I noticed that I had forgotten my Christmas tree decorations, so I could not decorate the Christmas tree that I was assigned to.

Looking back on this moment in my life as an adult, I had a few different options:

  1. I could’ve pretended to decorate the Christmas tree and just confused everyone a little.
  2. I could’ve borrowed a few decorations from the elf next to me and just put a couple decorations on the Christmas tree.
  3. I even could’ve ran out of the gym screaming and crying.

I, being the worst crisis-handler-of-all-time, did none of the above. Instead, I choose the worst option. The option so bad that I can’t even list it as an option because really, it was never an option to begin with.

8-year-old Kaelly decided that since I had forgotten the Christmas decorations in which to decorate the Christmas tree with, I would have a full-fledged panic attack in front of the entire town. Our choir teacher was towards the front of the gym playing piano while everyone else sang. I wanted to tell her that I’d made a horrible mistake, but she was really far away from me. Naturally, I started sprinting. I had forgotten my Christmas decorations, so obviously the only option I had was to sprint laps around the High School gym while the rest of my classmates stood there like normal human beings and sang.

So that’s what I did. I sprinted laps around everyone screaming in terror that I had forgotten my props while everyone watched. Meanwhile, my best friend just had to stand there in her Christmas tree outfit without any decorations on her because her elf was busy sprinting laps (sorry, Cassie!).

I’m not really sure how the rest of the concert went (probably because I blacked out due to embarrassment), but I remember the next day in school. Unfortunately, the next day, I learned that the concert had been recorded for everyone to keep. In class, our choir teacher made us watch our concert. Normally, it would’ve been fun to watch a movie in class in 2nd grade, but not that day. That day, I got to sit and be embarrassed in front of everyone and try to learn a lesson from my previous panic attack.

You’d think that after a stunt like that, I’d figure things out and learn how to handle a crisis so that I don’t embarrass myself in front of the entire town again, but I didn’t. Now, one of my best friends works at a crisis center, and sometimes, I legitimately think about getting on a crisis chat because I know when she works and I have a minimum of 17 different crises every week.

I wish that I could say that my panic attacks over tiny, minuscule problems ended that day, but they didn’t. Instead, they’ve just grown up with me. Someday, I really hope to be crisis free, but it doesn’t seem like that day is anywhere near.


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