There is that old saying about doing something that scares you every day. Today I did something that really scared me. It was something so simple, yet I had a fully physiological reaction to my nerves. My palms were sweating, my stomach was a tight knot, I felt sick and I was visibly trembling. Actually I was shaking. I found myself either holding my breath or breathing rapidly and when I stood my knees were shaking so badly I thought I was going to fall over. I was truly scared.
What was this great and frightening thing I undertook today you might ask? I can admit to feeling a little embarassed to share for it was nothing greater than playing my first violin recital to a roomful of people. There were about 10 of us in the program, and I was the oldest student there. The youngest being around 4 years old and the oldest of the group except myself was probably 14 years old. So the room was full of proud parents and grandparents, aunties and uncles there to see their children play. With my situation, I was the parent - my children were the ones in the audience.
I knew I was nervous but I was actually surprised at how this fear took effect physically over me. I haven't felt that way since the day Jasmine was in surgery having her brain tumour removed.
So yes, it truly was taking part in something that scared me. I wonder why I was that scared? When I really consider this I realize it is born out of insecurity. For me, knowing that a roomful of people are all watching my every move, and listening to every note, whether I hit it perfectly or go terribly wrong is not something to be relished. I can also recognise that an element of vanity plays in to this. I am a woman the wrong side of 40, I have more pounds on my frame than I used to, more grey hairs, more dry skin, more creases round my eyes. Having all eyes on me for the solid 3 or 4 minutes it takes to play the piece is also nerve-wracking. A broken heart or two, rejection and trials can do this to a woman.
So how did I overcome all this panic? I prayed before I left home. I wore my "brave" bracelet and looked at that word before I got up there. I wear it for Jasmine and when I'm feeling small and afraid it reminds me that despite how small she was, she had courage and bravery beyond her years to take on all that she did during treatment. Before I began playing, I decided not to bluff my way through with false bravado. I shared with the audience how nervous I was and asked for their grace. I said if I played poorly it was in no way a reflection on my excellent teacher.
I can play this piece perfectly at home and it would appear I can play this piece passably in front of a room full of people. I somehow got the notes out and began breathing again when that oh so kind audience cheered loudly for me at the close of the piece.