I could relate.
In fact, it happened to me rather recently. I hadn’t had any kind of nerve problems in years, then suddenly that Evil Demon crept up on me. I was sitting principal second for an orchestra job and had what I’ll describe as the most technically easy solo imaginable. Not a problem. Except if you are in the midst of an anxiety attack!
About a half a page before the Great Terrible Solo my heart started pounding, harder than it does when I go running. My ears started sweating – I wasn’t even aware ears could sweat! I got rather dizzy – then the thought came to mind, “I just want to run out of this room!” Not an option. Of course, I stayed and played. All the notes, in tune, in the right place, but not exactly the music I would have liked to make! Oddly, the rest of the concert was totally fine. I went on to help lead the troops through the “1812,” which is a lot trickier, without even a pang of nerves.
When my daughter was in her state of nervousness, the thought occurred to me that the situation didn’t require so much anxiety. Here she was, doing a dance she knew well, with her friends. Her audience consisted of adoring parents – her own and others. But her anxiety was every bit as real as my own.
Moreover, my situation was every bit as “trivial,” on some cosmic level, as hers. There I was, playing nice music with friends, for an audience of people assembled because they enjoy our music. Where’s the anxiety in that?
I think the only solution is to be amused. Be amused by your own anxiety and stage fright. Don’t fight it; it just happens when it happens. But don’t run out of the room!
My daughter missed out on one number but went on to join her friends and have a wonderful time for the rest of the show.
“I was sorry I missed that first dance, it was my favorite one,” she said afterwards.
“I’m proud of you,” I told her, and I genuinely meant it. It’s hard to conquer those kinds of feelings. “I’m proud you went back and did it!”
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