Hello everyone! My name is Chelsea Silva, and I am excited and honored to be a guest blogger on Shade Rachea's blog!
This is my first time writing on a public platform (not including social media, of course). Naturally I am a little anxious, which is exactly what I will be addressing today: performance anxiety.
Before I dive in I want to share a little more about myself. I am a 25 year old mother to a beautiful 18 month old baby girl. I have always had a passion for expressing myself creatively. Through music, dance, drawing, photography, and -you guessed it- poetry and writing. As a child I was always enthusiastic to share my newest art forms and would gather anyone who would watch and proudly share my newest creation. Naturally as I approached my teenage years, I became increasingly self-aware and consequentially more critical and afraid to publicly express myself. Initially I stopped performing and sharing in a public manner and eventually I stopped persuing my passions altogether. As my late teenage years transformed into my early adulthood, I would every once in a while pick back up where I had left off, but would always not follow through due to fear of criticism. Then I became a mother. Parenthood has the beautiful way of making things come to the surface. I remember filling out my daughter's baby book and one of the questions was "What are Mommy's favorite things to do?", and I was stumped. I knew that I loved all things creative, and was met with a level of embarrassment and shame that I had let my self-consciousness steal the joy of pursuing the things that I love. I remember looking at my beautiful infant sleeping peacefully away, and vowing, "I'm going to fix this."
So, what do I mean by performance anxiety? To me, performance anxiety, or stage fright, conjures up a cliche scene from a movie with blinding lights, the background noise slowly fades as the sound of the performer's own heart beat crescendos, when the performer suddenly is frozen, misses their cue, and runs off stage in embarrassment. In my experience, this is a fairly accurate depiction of my greatest fear. However, performance anxiety to me doesn't just pertain to a literal public performance. It can happen when sharing my newest poem with a close, trusted friend, singing in front of anyone (even my own husband), posting any art form on social media, writing on a blog *wink* , etc.
Why is it important to overcome performance anxiety? In my experience I have found, generally speaking, that creative people are sensitive and empathetic. The arts offer an outlet to those intense feelings and emotions that we all as humans experience, and we are able to create something beautiful out of it. The literal art itself, as well as an understanding that we are not alone with this crazy, beautiful, human experience called life. I can't tell you how many times I have read a book, heard a song, or admired a drawing, and thought, "This is me!", or "This is what I'm going through!". Imagine if those authors, song-writers/performers, and artists, did not take the chance despite vulnerability and potential criticism?
I still have a long way to go, but have had a few opportunities to empower myself to share some of work over the last year. I'm not going to lie, it was terrifying, at first. I had to go through the heart beating, palms shaking, faint feeling experience. Low and behold, I wasn't met with jeering, overly critical opinions, or sneering. Much to my surprise I was met with encouragement, and several "This is me!" and "This is what I'm going through!". I was in disbelief. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there may have been people whom I've shared my work with who had their negative opinions, or just plainly did not like it. They chose to not to share with me, but even if they had, I've come to the realization that I would be fine. After each experience I have gained more confidence that I never would had gained had I'd not taken the risk of sharing my work.
Most of the mental prisons we put ourselves in are invisible. What I mean is, I often hear people (myself included) say things like "I could never do that" or "I could never achieve *blank*". I am learning that not only is that thinking very negative, it's just downright a lie. You choose the risks you take in life. It's not that we cannot take the risk, it's that we will not. You hold the power to release yourself from your own mental prison. The unfortunate thing pertaining to performance anxiety is that you're not only depriving yourself of the creative outlet, but you are depriving someone of their "This is me!" and "This is what I'm going through!", like I was.
If you are reading this and are in the position that I once was, I hope that I have encouraged you to go out, take that risk, and bless not only yourself but someone else with whatever it is on your heart to share. Xo
A contrarian at heart. I prefer The Lord of the Rings over Harry Potter and Narnia. I love Country Music and John Hughes movies and am the worst at singing the correct lyrics.