Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stage Fright and Silencing Myself

I love reading blogs--I love seeing what all of you create with your fabrics and thread, your words and imaginations, your various mediums. Enjoying the beauty you all have created, however, implicates me a little. I don't share as much as I should.

Want to know why?

I'm afraid to.

No, really. I have awful stage fright. This would probably surprise most people who know me well--I don't exude the qualities of shyness most people associate with stage fright. I'm not afraid to speak my mind, I pipe up in board meetings, and I've never sweated giving a PowerPoint presentation to a class or a business meeting. But anything creative? Anything solely mine, created by me? I clam up.

I finally figured this out when I took piano in college. I considered my education lacking that I hadn't had piano (say that in the sort of voice you'd imagine from a Jane Austen character), and so took a couple semesters. I don't mean to sound boastful that I say I was always among the best in the class in terms of performance ability and music theory comprehension--really not trying to boast, it just aids in understanding what I'll say next. Because despite being quite competent in playing all my pieces, doing so in front of the class terrified me. I won't say I was anxious, or felt some trepidation--no, constricting, trembling fear is more like it.

Now, the moral of that story is that I overcame it. I pushed myself out of my comfortable bubble, took a few deep breaths, and forced myself to start playing. And a couple bars in, the music became more important than my fears.

Yet, I've noticed as well that I don't challenge myself anymore. My reenacting friends sing--a lot. At night, the instruments come out and we spend hours singing as a group and performing for one another. I'm perfectly happy singing along in large groups. Never, ever solos. Rarely duets or trios--and those terrify me enough that a liberal dose of scotch is required beforehand. I don't have a perfect voice, but respectable, even, dare I say it, a bit pretty and adequately trained--yet if I feel I can be heard, distinctly my voice by itself or among a few, I don't sing. Pretty effective metaphor--I silence myself out of fear.

I share only what makes me comfortable--not in an internet safety way, but in an emotional way. I don't post excerpts of my writing--because I think more than anything I fear being judged. Better to put nothing out there, right, than to put something out there and have it dismissed--or ignored?

No, not really. You don't grow if you don't challenge yourself--and getting over my fear of sharing my creative endeavors is a challenge I need to face. Getting over my fear of sharing my mistakes, my foibles, ultimately, my proud moments. Why? For one, if I want to be a published writer, I have to be willing to stand proudly with my work--not hide behind it. For another, in a puritanical "hardship strengthens us" sort of way, it's good for me.

So--I'm challenging myself. Every fortnight--roughly--I'll post something that makes me nervous to share. Perhaps a piece of flash fiction, perhaps a sewing project gone awry.

I will not be posting vlogs of me singing, though. Just fair warning. Not happening.

How about you? Are you afraid to share what you've created? Or does sharing come as a natural extension of the process for you? Any great overcoming stage fright stories to share?

6 comments:

Connie said...

Stage fright. Me. All the time. I was invited to speak at a women's meeting--my legs shook for the whole 45 minutes. I've had to play the piano for church for years--my hands shake. People ask about my writing--I'm tongue-tied and sound like an idiot. But I make myself do it because I want to be brave. To me, bravery isn't the absence of fear, but doing things in spite of the fear.

MrsC said...

Isn't it funny how we are afraid of irrational things sometimes more than genuine things. Our internal mechanisms have no way of distinguishing between the two. I know exactly what you mean - I sang at a friend's wedding reception recently in spite of being underprepared, and the microphone was waving in my hand because my hand was shaking so much, I had to grab that hand with the other! And that to a room of people I know and we all love each other! Dare I go to the Bible for insight on this matter? 1st Corinthians 13 - speaks of putting aside chiildish things and seeing things as they really are, through love. The fears we harbour almost always stem from childhood experiences, and part of our "love journey", of finding God's image in ourselves is to understand and see things as they are, with love and compassion. I am working on a practice where I listen to the fear, thank it so much for trying to look after me, because that is what it thinks it is doing, and gently move it aside to do what I am committed to doing. I am finding that this approach is slowly but surely releasing the grip in a way that feeling stupid about it never did :) You are so very clever and talented and your voice deserves to be heard whether it is singing, writing, or expressing itself as a creation. And of course, we read your writing all the time - your blog posts are as well crafted and skilful as any piece of writing can be! :)

Carrie C said...

I look forward to seeing what you share, Rowenna. I think it's a great development!

Gentlewomanthief said...

You're not alone, Rowenna!

I was actually quite harshly criticised a while back by a friend of mine for not being myself on my blog, apparently. I didn't think I wasn't being myself! But maybe it's that I don't share enough partially because of being a scaredy cat, but also partially because I don't think other people would be interested!

As for sharing what I've made, I'm a bit more used to that as I had to share my writing on my BA and MA on a weekly basis. Having said that, I'm generally only happy to share if I'm happy(ish) with what I've made myself or if it's with a trusted few (such as my MA writing circle). Although, knowing I had to share something at uni did make me work harder on editing my writing, even if it was only an exercise. So perhaps, sometimes, that fear can be a good thing.

mesmered said...

This was such an interesting post: I suffer huge trepidation every time I press publish on my blog. And i mean huge: not a great deal of self-belief inside my little head!

But I just remind myself that this is a challenge... my future as a writer. If I don't do it, I don't build a relationship with future readers. But in addition I am unable to access a critique group where I live, so any type of response, whether it is in reaction to an eclectic post or a piece of my writing, is much desired if feared.

mesmered said...

This was such an interesting post: I suffer huge trepidation every time I press publish on my blog. And i mean huge: not a great deal of self-belief inside my little head!

But I just remind myself that this is a challenge... my future as a writer. If I don't do it, I don't build a relationship with future readers. But in addition I am unable to access a critique group where I live, so any type of response, whether it is in reaction to an eclectic post or a piece of my writing, is much desired if feared.