the insecurities of performing.

I am currently drinking juice on  my patio, birds eating worms out of our little patch of grass, slight breeze blowing, laundry drying, feet on my table, writing this. I have a pretty sweet office set up if you ask me. Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in Work House Theatre Company's WORKplay event; there were five pieces that were being workshopped, one poem, three scenes from new plays and me, getting critiqued and getting some feedback. Immediately when my friend Carrie asked if I'd be interested I was really intrigued and very excited about the idea.

As the day approached I started getting a lot more nervous, I had the typical doubts and insecurities go through my head about the whole thing. I've expressed lately that I've been feeling really elementary in my writing lately, getting really overwhelmed after a short time journalling, getting easily discouraged when I pick up my guitar, motivation for practicing respective artistic outlets has been low. I have busied myself and in turn made myself go crazy; there's a certain feeling of being grounded after putting words to what I'm processing or thinking about, be it a painting, even just a line of a song, a little jot down in my journal, but I'm out of practice. So to be participating in a writing workshop for my songs when I didn't have any super new material felt a little strange.

No one I know was able to come, and that made for a nerve-wrenching pre-show wait. I met a few of the people acting to begin with. I get a strange social anxiety that flares up before most shows, plus when I'm nervous and about to perform I usually get really introverted and introspective, going over a lot of things in my head. Yesterday it was amplified; I'm not used to being alone, just sitting by myself. Since I've moved to the city I've increased significantly the quick lunches alone in a restaurant, but there is always something filling the emptiness - a book, the newspaper, when all else fails, my phone. But I just sat there yesterday for a good twenty minutes, just waiting, and psyching myself out, creating conspiracy theories in my head about how obviously everyone was watching the back of my head wondering who the loner girl is [isn't that silly. Does anyone else do that?] and I just wanted to bolt. I sucked it up and sat through it after realizing how much of a ridiculous baby I was. Lesson learning, even the smallest of lessons, can be so uncomfortable.

I was also feeling nervous leading up to the night because I knew I'd be playing alone too. I've been having different friends fill in and fill up my sound with their incredible talent. It does really add something to have a lead guitar line on top of my usual strumming or simple picking, not to mention a relief to have someone up on stage with me. I get nervous and insecure about the simplicity of what I do; this is my voice, this is my guitar, these are my simple songs. But they've been given to me and there is something about giving even when you feel that it's silly; it's important to do. So that's why I do it.

The performances were stunning. Incredibly talented writers were presenting their work last night. I was immediately humbled and doubting all at the same time. I really felt out of my league. And wondered how the hell to tie it all in. When I got on stage at the end though, I don't know, it was like a strange piece came over me as soon as I started to strum. It usually happens when I play, I get butterflies and when I get up there they go away, but it felt like magic yesterday. It was like my guitar sounded the way I intended it to, my voice was the best I think it could be, the acoustics were so perfect, the crowd was so sweetly quiet and kindly receptive. I had such a high after that concert. I left the stage feeling like I did the best I could have done, and there was something so satisfying about how great I felt and how raw and stripped down it was. There weren't bells or whistles or costume changes or even a microphone, just me and a room.

Getting to perform and share is... magic. it's just so great. And so often this is how I feel the day of a concert, the same doubts and questions, the relief and joy after performing. In it is the beauty in trying, in participating in the midst of the messiness and the learning. These are important days to push through.

Posted on May 28, 2011 and filed under writing-.