Stage Fright

I am the head organizer and also a performer in a show happening tonight at our local Roxy Theater called Word of Mouth. This is our 2nd annual show and tickets sold out 2 days ago. WOM brings together spoken word, storytelling, and standup comedy into one show – and it’s freaking awesome!
Word of Mouth Mission:
WOM aims to both support and highlight local wordsmiths and nourish and inspire the audience by way of rediscovering the power of words through various creative forms of self-expression.

As a spoken word artist, to say that I get nervous before performances would be a fairly large understatement – it would be like saying that a bear is basically the same sort of animal in disposition and behavior as a large dog.

I put value in telling people that I get super nervous before performances, as people who see me do spoken word often tell me that they never would’ve guessed that I was nervous. I think it’s important to help dispel the common notion that just because I’m good at what I do and just because I’m up there on stage doing it, equates to me feeling super chill about it. I do not feel super chill about it. Every time I gear up for a spoken word performance I literally say to myself: Whose idea was this?!

Here’s something I penned this morning in my journal:

Stage fright is real –
maybe as real as it gets.
It’s irrational
and operates outside of cognitive processing.

I can’t reason with it.

I can’t sit it down and have an
intelligent conversation that will
result in dispelling its wild misgivings.

And unfortunately,
telling me I’m good at what I do
and I’ll be great is akin to telling
someone with a fear of flying that
statistically it’s safer than driving,
it does nothing to belay
my nerves from pitching and heaving.
In fact, it makes it worse,
cuz now I feel like I SHOULD
just be able to just get over it.

The best I’ve been able to do
is work on making betting acquaintance
with my fear – to allow it in the car
but not hand over the wheel
to dictate my direction.
(Fear is a horrible, no good, terrible driver.)

Trying to kick it to the curb just makes it
angry and more determined to stay put.
And it feels patronized – rightfully so –
when I throw shallow happy talk at it,
cuz it knows I don’t really mean what I’m saying.

A few minutes ago, I marched into the bedroom, where my husband is just starting to wake up, and I said to him: So, I’m going to be a handful today. Thank you in advance for putting up with me. I love you. The end.

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