As someone with anxiety, fear has always been one of my main emotions. Those who think they know the real me would be shocked to hear that. Sometimes, I come across as fearless but that’s far from the truth.
I recently did my first couple of solo comedy sets. I was so nervous beforehand. For someone with anxiety, getting in front of an audience takes a lot of strength. When I did my first solo comedy set in Brantford, as soon as I started, I look at the audience and wanted to get off stage right away. A big part of my mind was like, “nope you can’t do this” and my whole body was also shaking. My mind also became a little blurred.
Because of all this, I messed up a couple times.
I was a bit embarrassed after. But now writing this, I’m trying to think what the big deal was. It didn’t ruin my reputation or credibility, and I got back on stage 5 days later and did another one.
At the beginning of 2017, I developed the mindset of being scared but doing it anyways. It might have been my first time on stage or my first time travelling to Toronto on my own when I decided to not let fear hold me back. If I did, I wouldn’t be truly living. As soon as I decided this, my life became so much better.
I have travelled to Toronto a couple times in the past few months and am going again next week. I love Toronto. My friends are there. They aren’t in the position to come down and see me so I go see them. Understandably, my mom has anxiety about me traveling to the big city alone. She often wonders why I don’t get scared travelling there, around and back on my own.
Let me tell you guys a secret: I’m scared shitless….but I do it anyways. If I didn’t, I would miss out on fun times and good opportunities. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to see my friends for months at a time. I’m scared to go to a big city alone and get in front of audiences, but ever since I started, my life has been better and a good adventure.
A couple weeks ago, I found a book I brought forever ago called “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. In the book, she lists the following truths about fear:
Truth 1: The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
Truth 2: The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
Truth 3: The only way to feel better about myself is to go out…and do it.
Truth 4: Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
Truth 5: Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.
Jeffers also discusses many powerful tools in her book, but there was one that stuck with me the most. In chapter eight, she talks about the whole life matrix. When we dedicate our lives to one thing, it is easy to fear that we might lose it or that something might alter it. But when we fill our lives with many components, it isn’t life-altering to take the risk. “With so many components of life, even if we lose one, there are so many others to fill the void.”
If I dedicated my whole life to comedy and my fear was doing so bad that I never got booked for another set, and that came true, it would be devastating.
But because comedy only one part of my life, it would be less of a loss because there’s so many other aspects in my life than just comedy. Same goes for every other aspect of my life. Another fear I have is losing a friend. Looking at it in this perspective, if someone decided to walk out of my life, I would be upset but I would eventually be okay because of all the other aspects in my life and people who care about me.
So, it’s not that I’m not scared. I do have an anxiety disorder after all.
It’s knowing that I would eventually be okay if something went wrong.
It’s also knowing I can’t control everything that goes on around me.
Knowing that, I “feel the fear and do it anyway”.
Jeffers, S. (2006). Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway. New York City, NY: Ballantine Books