It is always a little strange when you finally get to a day you have been working towards for a while. In this case, it's not even my work that is being evaluated, but I would be lying if I said there wasn't some apprehensive anticipation about starting on my first NSF panel tomorrow. Yes, yes, I know I'll do fine and I know that everyone has been the new person on a panel at one point or another, but that hasn't kept me from re-reading all my reviews, plus those of everyone else on each proposal I am associated with. I've skimmed back over the proposals, especially the ones where my review was at odds with the others (which happened a few times).
It's not so much the having to defend my opinion that concerns me, I do that all the time. It is more 1) not knowing how this all goes down, and 2) being sure I don't miss something that results in someone not getting funded.
As for the first point, I don't want to be scrambling tomorrow after one or two proposals are presented because I realize that everyone else introduces some part of the proposal that I forgot to look over again. Oh, you wanted to talk about that? Um, give me a few minutes.... While this seems unlikely, I'll feel a little better after we get through a couple.
On the second point, I know how tough it is getting funding right now and how important these decisions are. Granted, I won't be making any decision in isolation, but I do feel obligated to fight for the proposals I think deserve it and against those that don't. On one proposal, in particular, I am in the minority opinion (somewhat drastically) but I think the proposal is full of problems. That said, I am open to being convinced otherwise and not being the only fly in the ointment.
More than anything, I just want to get this process started so that I am not trying to anticipate what is going to happen, whether I'll be taken seriously and what my overall role will be.