Maybe some of my Toastmasters and professional speakers can relate to this stage fright. We have all had it at some point or another and some of us may still have it.
I for sure can relate to this. Many times the feeling hits me hard. What am I doing here? I am nobody, pretending to be someone. I don’t deserve to be here, I don’t even deserve the applause. Then my heart starts racing, I know what’s expected of me, I have been wanting to be up here, asking for it, begging for it, and now. Now the time has come and all I think is that I don’t deserve to be here. I haven’t earned the right to be here.
Even if I have prepared for days, weeks, or even months the feeling never dies. I remember a speech from another Toastmaster friend, where he tells a story of faking a seizure in order to buy his way out of the stage. Should I do that now? There is hardly enough time between the applause and the rush of the thoughts that come to my mind at times.
On your marks, Get Set …. and GO. Once I get started I am fine. It is usually the run-up to the speech and the first 10 to 30 seconds that is the hardest. Once I get passed that hurdle I am fine. I can even fake the rest. The magic comes into play, the Table Topics preparations are fantastic and if you are speaking from the heart then you need no notes or cues.
But let’s go back to the question. “What happens to you when you are standing in the spotlight just before you start?” While I direct the question to you, let me just slip in that this was a question asked to Shirley MacLaine one day when she was going through a difficult time, to which she answered:
“The light is blinding. It is piercing and directed right into my pupils. I can’t see anything or anyone and all I can hear is their applause. At first, I am afraid then it is OK. But then maybe I feel like a fraud because I know what it takes to make the magic. It’s all a trick. I don’t like tricks, but all show business is a trick. It’s an illusion. You know that and so does the audience”
When I came across these words in her book, it felt like water over the fire for me. You would never believe that battle with a self low esteem. Yes, I do. I hardly approve of any of my achievements. I don’t think they are enough and whatever I achieve, I often feel like so what. Someone has done it before and it is no big deal, so to read that even the very best, the most famous, and someone whom I have a lot of respect for, feels the same was reassuring that this might be just a feeling that we might all have.
Often these feelings are created by negative feedback. Feedback from parents, friends, colleagues, reviews, and … This year was another defining moment for me as I had to battle one such feedback. Feedback from a person who defined himself as justice, as an authority, yet he was acting on his own behalf for no law, nothing other than his personal beliefs and motives. He bombarded me with emails, berating me publicly and privately. However I had done no wrong, he tried blackmail, he tried threatening the loss of my reputation and yet all of these gave me more reason and power to stand up against him. To stand up against people who sometimes are the root of our low self-esteemed feelings. People who probably wished that they could have achieved half as much as you and only to vent off their jealousy resort to berating and belittling you.
Yes. I have the same feelings as Shirley MacLaine, and it is only a passing feeling of fear that crosses all minds. In order to achieve you must rise beyond these shadowy doubts that have been hammered into you by low life and underachievers. Take a deep breath, pause, and rise to the occasion.
If I review my achievements, I have achieved and I will still achieve a lot more than those who have nothing better than to berate me.
If you review your life, you have achieved and you will achieve a lot more than the rest who sit around and just talk.
Stage fright, the feeling of low self-esteem, and the rest are just normal and the only way forth is by going for it, trying it, and taking advantage of every opportunity. Today, I take every opportunity that life presents me. The fruit hangs from the tree of life, it is your decision to make the most of it, it is your decision.
I help entrepreneurs and startup founders get past this feeling of low self-esteem and achieve their highest dreams. Book a call with me and together let’s achieve.