Sometimes, we just want to run away and hide. We ask ourselves: ‘who am I kidding?’ So, how do we overcome such anxiety?
First Time Nerves
Last week, I performed at a charity event. There were two stages but only one compere and sound engineer. Fortunately for me, I performed on the stage that had both. Others were less lucky.
One such performer was a young girl, who was singing her own songs for the first time in public. She is a student of a friend of mine, who was there to support her. When it came to her slot, there was nobody there to introduce her and nobody to show her how to plug in or get the sound she needed from the PA.
My friend, her teacher, showed her how to set up. However, she was disheartened and said she no longer wanted to perform. He persisted and said that if she wants to do this, she will need to get used to the vagaries of live performance. In the end, she went through with her set and received a warm reception.
This may not seem like a particularly unusual or earth-shattering story. However, for that young performer it could just be a life-defining moment. And, even if this turns out to be the one and only performance she gives, it will have taught her something valuable. Which is to overcome your anxieties in the moment, however doubtful you may feel.
We all experience doubt. Many of us suffer from what is commonly known as ‘imposter syndrome’, whereby we feel unworthy of an opportunity or the attention it affords us. However, we all have it within us to push through. In the words of a popular psychology book from the 1980s, we need to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.
As a youngster, I went for an audition to play drums for a rock band. When I arrived, another drummer was already playing. He looked the part and was a phenomenal musician. I almost left without trying out myself. However, I realised that if this was what I wanted to do, I’d need to go ahead and take the plunge.
After the audition, not much was said, so I packed up and left. Later that day, received a call from the band leader. He asked why I’d rushed off. I told him it was clear the other drummer was far better and they wouldn’t be interested in me. To which he replied: ‘he was too much of a superstar – we really liked your playing’.
Honesty & Integrity
The point is, we can each only do the best we have to offer. Often, we will convince ourselves that our best is not good enough. And very often we will be wrong.
The fact that you are worried whether or not you are good enough to do something shows that you are invested in it. You care about the outcome: both for yourself and others involved. These are signs of integrity and honesty. Both of which are valuable attributes.
Do It Anyway
So, by all means feel the fear. Do question your abilities and motives. But don’t back out. If whatever it is you are hoping to achieve doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. Having said that, if you care enough to have such doubts, you’ll probably be great.