All Shook Up 

Standing up in front of people and talking terrifies me to my bones; my legs start shaking and my mouth turns into a stuttering mess – it’s a bit of a stumbling block for someone who spends most of the time doing that exact thing. As a performer, I have found tricks and methods that help me prepare myself for when I have to go out and perform as well as for my everyday life. Playing a character that mumbles and shakes his legs is an pure coincidence, and even though it’s helpful, it’s not a solution for nervousness. Before I have to step onto stage, my mind usually goes blank and I panic. Every word I have memorised for the previous few weeks decides to go for a fag break at the most inconvenient time, and leaves me all alone to walk out with just my smile and the hope that they return before I have to open my mouth. Don’t take what I’m saying as if I don’t enjoy what I do, because that’s so far from the truth it’s funny. I love what I do and I don’t know where else I’d get my fix of madness if I didn’t do it. You see, it’s me not knowing if the shit is going to hit the fan that fuels my adrenalin to perform to my best ability. When I go out there full of confidence thinking that I know everything, the probability of something going wrong is far higher than when I go out there expecting it to go wrong, and I like living on the edge. It’s good to have nerves, it’s good that we get nervous: it gets the blood pumping to the brain, it’s how we react to it that we’re going to talk about now. What is the real problem that stops us doing what we want to do? What is stopping us achieving our dreams and ambitions? What is it that keeps us away from being the best we can be? Why can’t we be like our heroes or idols? Well at this point I need you to pour yourself a drink and sit down, take a deep breath and relax, because I have some news that may be a bit of a shock to you. You haven’t achieved what you truly want – and I’m sorry to say this – because of you. It’s you stopping you moving to the next level. I’m not going to drone on about why you haven’t got what you want, I do in fact want to talk about how you get what you want. Self confidence and self awareness are two sides of the same coin – you can’t have one without the other. The day I stopped worrying about things going wrong was an eye opener to me. I was standing on stage halfway through the act when I went blank, I stood there looking at a hall full of people and I had two choices: take a deep breath and panic or take a deep breath and not panic. I chose not to panic. I improvised: I stood there and talked total rubbish for what felt like an hour – when in fact it was probably only a minute at the most – until what I was talking about came back to me. I figured that I wouldn’t be up there doing what I do if I didn’t know what it was I was doing, and that nobody will know if I go wrong if I don’t tell them. Besides, if they did notice I had to own that mistake and make it a part of what it was doing. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes, it’s all about perspective. How we see the situation playing out in our minds as we stand there is the most likely outcome of the situation. Having the courage or guts to get up and do something that terrifies you is a brave thing to do in itself. Getting up and owning it is something else. For years I held myself back from doing the real things I wanted to do because I was afraid of being seen as silly, worried about what others will think of me, but my biggest hurdle was me. I didn’t think I was good enough, I didn’t think I had anything to offer; who would want to listen to anything I have to say? Why would anyone pay money to come and see me perform? I’m in my early 40’s now and have missed out on a lot of time whilst being afraid, but what was I really afraid of? Was it my fear of failing or my fear of succeeding? I have learned to use my fear as a tool to drive my engine if things go wrong; I adapt, I smile and make it work for me. We can’t fail at something that isn’t determined, if we are writing the story of our lives then we can rewrite bad situations with happy endings, or at least an ending that favours a more suitable outcome for ourselves. We make things good or bad with how we react to them and it’s this simple statement that can change anything in our lives. Through the power of positive thought followed by positive action, we can live incredible lives. Nothing is good or bad unless we make it so.

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