Is there a place to hide here?
My heart was pumping so hard I thought it was going to jump out of my chest. I found myself staring at the exit sign in the church sanctuary just 30 feet away and thinking, “Maybe if I ran fast enough no one would see me escape!?”
It had been awhile since I had sung a solo and accompanied myself on the guitar. After five years of not being able to play, due to chronic pain in my hands, I was still getting back into the swing of things. It had been only a recent discovery that playing, while it still hurt, didn’t result in a huge increase in pain for days. Before the chronic pain began, I regularly played in public. But that was five years ago. Back when I didn’t think about it. Today, I felt like a fake and the EXIT sign was looking quite inviting. The sermon felt like it was going on forever and yet I never wanted the pastor to stop either. Because then I would be next.
“Oh, my hands are cold. I hope they will move when I need them to.”
Well, the sermon did end.
I did get myself to stand up, walk up in front of the whole congregation, pick up my guitar, play and sing.
And I even lived to tell about it!
Waited too long?
Sometimes we have to go through the motions and act like we are happy, confident, and under control even when we are not feeling that way.
I have learned over the years that going through the motions (being a “fake”)…gets you going. In time, the rest of you will catch up.
Waiting doesn’t switch on your enthusiasm. Action does.
More than once I have heard the introductory notes to a song and thought to myself, “Now how do the lyrics to this song go again?” And yet time and again, when the words were supposed to come they did and proceeded to pour out of my mouth like it had never been a concern. My anxiety had been misplaced.
I have discovered that trusting in my own body memory and all my past rehearsing will take over if I let it. The less I stress, the better it goes.
And, of course, there are those occasional times that I do forget words to a song. But I have discovered that if it’s no big deal to me, it will be no big deal to the audience. If I smile about it, they smile. If I laugh about it, they laugh.
And in other news…
Just a funny side note. A long time ago my friend and I wrote a song called Pretty Grin. We dedicated a whole verse to how we dealt with forgetting lyrics to songs we wrote by singing Naa naa naaa naaa naaa. It ended up being a favorite verse not only for us but for our audience. And any time we did forget words it provided a “shared joke” with our audience.
Ultimately, the more authentic you allow yourself to be the better you communicate
I am human, just like you.
People appreciate and connect better with you when they know they are like you.
Here is what I have learned. When I was a kid, I remember thinking that adults who could get up on stage, calmly talk to the audience and perform were almost magical. They had it totally together. Well, I later found out they didn’t. No one does. People, in general, would rather die than to speak in front of an audience.
Yes, go through the motions
So how do you move from going through the motions to feeling the positive emotions? Is it really a path to move from “fake” to legit?
You use mind over matter to make your feet walk up in front; then you have your voice and/or your fingers take it from there, depending on what you are doing. Now I can’t say that this process of making yourself do something is very fun. But, do it enough times, and you will discover you do survive the experience. That memory then, in turn, helps you get up and do it again the next time opportunity opens the door.
I get nervous. Yes, I sometimes get very nervous. Even after singing in front of people for 40 years, I still get nervous. During almost every performance there will be a moment where while I am singing on the outside but I am talking to myself on inside saying, “Janet you are doing just fine. Relax and keep going.”
Focusing on my desire to connect with people, share a story through song, to accomplish my goal helps me to “keep moving forward.” I choose to push through the fight or flight mode that my nervous system is going through. I keep my eyes on the prize, and finally, my emotional system catches up and says, “Good job! You did it! And by the way, this was fun. I am glad I thought of this!” 😉
This will work for you, too. Fake you way into feelings of confidence.
What’s your experience? Add to the conversation.