This morning, I was asked by a family friend to perform Latin dance at her in-law’s birthday party. In front of 150 people. With only TWO DAYS- today and tomorrow- to prepare.
My first instinct was, No thanks, I’m gonna pass. That was the anxiety and insecurity talking. The all-too-familiar voice in my head telling me to stay away from risk and vulnerability. Let’s face it, guys- performing in front of a large crowd, whether it’s dancing, speaking, or playing an instrument, is no easy task.
I am not a natural performer. I am an introvert. Even though I was a competitive gymnast for ten years, I never really got over the anxiety of performing. Even at my prime as a gymnast, I would stress out so much before a big competition that I wouldn’t eat right or sleep well weeks before the big day. People are surprised when I tell them I still get stage fright, despite having competed and performed so frequently in front of large audiences, bearing the pressure of perfection.
The truth is, not even the most seasoned of performers truly get over stage fright. They do, however, learn to be incredibly comfortable with being uncomfortable. They learn to utilize their nervous energy to their advantage. The first step towards acquiring the ability to transform anxiety into positive energy, however, is to get as much experience as you can on the stage.
This is why I agreed to perform in front of 150 people this Sunday. So I can take steps towards achieving my long-time dream of becoming a level-headed, seasoned performer. I was fully aware of the anguish I’d be putting myself through as I replied “Yes” to my family friend. However, I knew that if I turned down the opportunity to perform, I would kick myself for staying inside the comfort of dancing in front of the mirror in an empty studio.
Sometimes, guys, you just can’t keep churning around the “what-if’s” in your mind when faced with a choice between comfort and discomfort. Yes, when faced with the choice to perform, I was indeed thinking, “Well what if I mess up? Forget my choreography? Fall down in front of all those people?” But I chose to quiet those voices down, because I know they are not serving me. Instead, I went AGAINST my initial instinct and took on Sunday’s performance as a challenge.
There are certain moments in life when it is important to do what scares you, rather than settling in “contentedness”. Because with discomfort and fear comes growth of character and confidence.