So when an old homeroom teacher offered me the chance to read at an event during my Spring Break I was pretty hesitant, but I agreed under a sense of obligation. But I’m just as terrified as ever. Two weeks out, these are my current strategies for facing my fear.
My main focus at the moment is getting my piece written as quickly as possible so I can practice. The main benefit of course is making a good performance a habit, but there are other benefits. Having my work done early cuts down on the stress throughout the process, meaning that I can better use my time. In addition, I get the chance to hone my final product as I practice, learning what works best and what doesn’t. This means that when I finally present, my practice not only makes me confident in my speaking, but in my writing as a whole.
These principles are widely applicable—if you’re nervous about an essay, doing a lot of free- and pre-writing can help you loosen up and ultimately result in a better essay. If you’re nervous about meeting new people, try to put yourself out there as much as possible in smaller, less stressful doses and build up to bigger events like parties.
Another thing I’m trying is meditation. With apps like Headspace and Insight Timer, it’s easy to carve out five minutes a day to relax and deal with my anxieties in a healthy, controlled way. This makes it easier to actually get to the practicing and makes me less nervous as I do it. As the date gets closer, I hope to ramp up the number of times I meditate so that when it’s finally time for me to go up I can be sure to get myself into the right state of mind to minimize anxiety.
Finally, I’m finding as many people as I can to practice in front of. By exposing myself to smaller stressors, I can work up a resistance to my fear with people I’m comfortable talking to. I hope to start by performing for my roommate, and work up to a few small groups of friends, and then family when I get home for Spring Break. This way, when the final performance comes it will be less of a sudden stress and I’ll have had time to adapt to the experience.
I’m not sure how these will work out for me yet. But hopefully some of my experiences might be helpful to you as you face the tasks in life that are out of your comfort zone.
-- Joanna Slusarewicz