Stage fright at the horse show
should I stay or should I go?
If you're reading this now and it is early enough in the day I likely still have not yet fully committed to the terror that is before me. See, we set a goal back in April, Megan and me. We set a goal that I would be cantering by the end of the summer. Mission accomplished there.
Our second goal? We decided that I would ride in the fall horse show. This was supposed to take place in October. The October show has been cancelled. This cancellation was perfect, the ideal excuse to back out. This cancellation would give me and my terror the cover I needed to chicken out.
That’s right - chicken out
I’m not afraid of losing to nine year olds. Nor am I afraid of their fragile little feelings with their dreams of winning or desires to impress doe eyed grandparents. I’d likely kick their asses so thoroughly their ribbon-braided-pig-tails wouldn’t know what hit them.
If you are reading this now, every cell, every molecule, every nano-gram of my existence is saying no to this damn horse show. Recently, I’ve been giving myself permission to withdraw from the world. This is the freedom of saying no to everything else and yes to myself
I’m kinda bored with this shit. I also have a nagging feeling of guilt. They’ll miss me if I’m not there. I made a promise. This is another bullshit story. Will they miss me if I’m not there?
My vanity says yes. Practical experience says no. When we withdraw, or choose not to go, people miss us long enough to comment on the fact that we’re not there. After that, we tend to get distracted by what’s actually happening. We invest in the people who are actually there.
It’s eight in the morning and I still haven’t decided. I’ve sent in my entry fee. I’ve prepared everything else. I still can’t shake this feeling of being sick to my stomach.
This nausea is an old friend.
Some might call it ‘impostor syndrome’. This wouldn’t be the case for me. I am very good at being an impostor. This is an old, familiar friend that I’ve had for over thirty years of performing. It has a couple of names. I know it best as stage fright, or performance anxiety.
Otherwise known as: you love putting on a show and there is no way to know how things are going to go, better have A LOT of energy to run away should they pull out knives and try to cut my testes off.
I’ve given thousands of performances for countless people everywhere from basement stages to some really posh theaters. Stage fright doesn’t go away. It never does.
I haven’t put on a big show in a while so a small one like this shouldn’t be a big deal. Besides, no one has bought a ticket to see me. I’m not getting paid. I can say no to the world and yes to myself.
Only I wouldn’t be saying no to the world. I’d be saying no to my instructor, Megan. We had an agreement that I would ride in this show this week. In thinking about this post, I’ve come to determine that stage fright has been holding me back.
I’ve made some commitments to myself when it comes to things I want to do. Some include: hosting a night of readings in my space, try my had at some open mic stand up comedy and selling some products online.
I keep kicking these performances down the road. It seems setting goals with myself or with ‘the public’ isn’t enough. A commitment to myself isn’t enough? I guess that’s like saying I’m not enough. That’s a common thread I hear from people dedicated to serving others.
When I commit to others - specific others, it’s easier to stay on the hook. It becomes more difficult to merely say ‘yes’ to myself and drop out.
So, say no to others and yes to yourself.
When that gets boring, how can you follow through?
When are you an impostor?
When is it not impostor syndrome, but stage fright?
How does that energy help you?