I made every excuse in the book to get out of doing the thing that scared me. The Thing was scheduled for yesterday evening, and I’d known it was coming for about four or five months. That meant that I couldn’t even pull the ‘but I’m woefully under-prepared!!!!’ card. Thing was, I really, REALLY didn’t feel like it. I mean, really. The past couple of weeks have been utterly manic. While it may look like, as a freelancer/self-employed chappy, I just swan off to the cinema on a Wednesday afternoon, that isn’t my whole life.
Yes, I do take off on occasional mid-week jaunts, but to make up for it I work through the weekend. I stay up working til late. I wake up in the morning and hit my inbox. I think about work all the time. This last week it all got a little bit TOO much. When you’re a freelancer, you obviously have a variety of different people who give you work. You don’t leave your office at the weekend, or at 6pm, and leave your work behind. You need to be easily contactable at all hours, and when you need to take a day off to get some head space, it can get a bit sticky. I desperately needed that bit of room, but everywhere I turned there was a loose end. The emails, phonecalls, texts and tweets suddenly all started to build up and I started to drown a bit.
I’d manage to get a very sexy bit of flu at some point during the week, which meant that by Thursday morning, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. In fact, navigating the tubes on Wednesday, I kept feeling like I was going to pass out. My voice had started to go. Then there was all the snowy weather and cancelled plans…all in all, I was getting a bit stressed out and a bit crap at dealing with stuff. I was trying to run away from my To Do list instead of calmly approaching it, and that was the worst thing I could have done.
Yesterday, I took action. I decided I wasn’t going to do The Scary Thing. Because of this decision, I then felt so guilty and awful that I channelled my energies into everything else on my list and actually manage to clear a lot of my work load. I was due to leave for The Scary Thing at 6pm. Around 5.30, I decided to do it. The Scary Thing was singing and playing my ukulele in front of an audience at a burlesque night at the Forum, in Tunbridge Wells. I’d never even been to the Forum, and it had been ages since I’d performed in front of people. I’ve sung in front of crowds before, but never sung AND played my uke. I was losing my voice, I was dizzy, I was exhausted, frazzled, and had never done the song in front of anyone before. Oh, and I hadn’t washed my hair.
What changed my mind? The fact that, deep down, under the talk about flu and potential snowfall, I knew I was planning on cancelling because I was just plain scared. I wanted to let myself off the hook. Thing is, if it’s only fear that’s holding me back, then I will always do it. If I’m scared, I know I’ll go through with whatever it is I’ve said. Whether it’s singing in the middle of the RVP shopping centre in T Wells on a busy day, modelling in a catwalk show, or agreeing to pull together a magazine pitch in a week, I’ll always do it, to smash in the head of my Fear. Why? Because I never want to look back and know that I stood in my own way.
I thought about this blog, and how it’s based around positivity, ‘just doing it’, and encouraging people to go for their goals. How could I possibly keep writing like this and telling others not to be scared, if I knew I’d completely caved in myself? My whole philosophy in life is based on stepping outside of my comfort zone, because then and ONLY THEN will good things happen. You can’t sit around in your room or in your office, expecting your life to miraculously change and get exciting. You need to do it yourself.
I am generally great at not letting nerves interfere with anything. I decreed this year would be ‘my year’ (I hope you’ve done something similar yourself), and since the year started I’ve been taking chances, making connections, smiling at strangers, going to new things…And things have already changed hugely. This year has already been unbelievably brilliant. Good thing after good thing has been happening. But to return to last night…I stomped all over my nerves, quickly ironed my dress, grabbed my ukulele and a make up bag and headed off.
I wasn’t remotely nervous when I got there and met the rest of the girls who were performing. Everyone was so lovely and really kind. I got dressed, Victory rolled my hair, ran through my song and chilled out, trying to ignore the flu-induced dizziness and slightly croaky voice. I was still calm as the audience filtered in. The photographer at the event very kindly came up to tell me I looked good on camera in the photos he’d shot before we started, so that made me feel a lot better. And predictably, ten minutes before I went on, I completely freaked. My voice suddenly started to go, I felt a bit shaky, and I just really, really, REALLY didn’t want to do it.
I did though. I stepped out there, looked into the audience, had a little chat with them, and started to sing. I think it went well – I had a couple of strained moments due to the good ol’ sore throat, but ultimately, it went much better than I could have hoped. Because, like Cinderella, I had to get home before the Lemsip wore off, I exited through the audience. I was still slightly scared that I would get pelted with a spare bucket of tomatoes that someone had on hand, but ultimately I was relieved I’d done it, and completely buzzing. No tomatoes – I had some lovely, sweet people saying they’d really enjoyed it, one girl asked for my card because she was getting married and mentioned something about me singing at her wedding, and another lovely lady was very enthusiastic and asked about where she could buy my CD, and took my card to talk through potential future opportunities with her!
So, not bad for the first time I’d ever performed like that in public. If I hadn’t gone, I would have stayed at home, watching TV, eating spaghetti, and feeling very silly. I still truly believe that if it scares you, you should do it. Even if you do it for the huge burst of adrenaline that you’ll get afterwards, then make it happen. It worked to clear my head – I’m suddenly able to focus again, I’ve ticked things off the list and just generally dealt with everything that’s come my way today.
Still not convinced? There’s a line in a Chilli Peppers song that always sticks with me, and it’s this: “This life is more than just a read through”