here. I wish everyone could have an affirming experience when they face a fear, though I'll admit my fear of public speaking persisted a long time even though I've had positive experiences with it. Nobody's booed me at any rate.
I had a boss who was absolutely wonderful: supportive, kind... challenging. He made me lead meetings and speak at staff meetings. That was about 250 faces looking only at a shy introvert. I was pretty sure Leon was going to give me a stroke if he didn't succeed in helping me grow.
I survived, and reinforced one of my core beliefs that most people want us to succeed. My coworkers may have been bored silly during my presentation, but they went out of their way to say I'd done well. Over and over, people have affirmed my public speaking efforts even though I've done everything I could to avoid them. This isn't to brag that I'm good at it. I think people have been on my side because I admit I'm nervous and laugh at myself. I make an effort and try to do better.
There was a time when I was in a bad marriage, lived as a recluse in the woods, then moved back to suburbia and got a job. I'd forgotten how to speak. Not just standing in front of a crowd, I mean I forgot really basic stuff. A kid said "hi" to me and I couldn't think of a response. He saw me choking internally and gave me a funny look, and then shrugged and skipped off. I went to my office and had a meltdown. I called a friend who supplied the answer, "You say 'hi' back". Oh. Duh.
Next time I saw a kid I said "hi". I remembered to smile too. I got better at it, which was a really good thing because I had to get on stage and talk to hundreds of people at a time for that job. I had to teach classes too. I dealt with it.
I think most fears are like this. People really don't die when they have to give an oral report at school or present something in a meeting. A monster isn't going to come from under the bed and a bear isn't going to maul you.
We're afraid of mistakes that will in some way ruin our lives or subject us to criticism. Here's a hard fact, criticism doesn't kill you either. Unless someone is coming at you with a knife, you're probably safe to try tackling one of your invisible monsters. Start with an easy one. If the people around you don't support your effort, find someone who will. That doesn't mean find someone who just says you're always wonderful. Find someone who is willing to be there for you while you try. Find a Leon who helps push you to do better.