Does anyone except me have performance anxiety? Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about not being able to do things as well when someone is watching. I noticed this first when I tried to play piano at a recital. Even though I knew the piece backwards and forward because it was something very simple like chopsticks, when I got up in front of everyone my mind was blank as a dumb blond’s face.
Actually I was going to say: “As blank as a piece of notebook paper,” but then I decided that was a cliché. So I wondered what else was blank, and I thought of a blond girl I knew who used to stare off into space. That seemed to fit – I just added the “dumb” part because it seemed funnier.
Back to my recital. So I came up blank, and my teacher whispered, “D, then C.” He might as well have been saying @%#$ and &*%@# because I didn’t have a brain left to think. It had turned to liquid and was flowing under my shirt down to my ankles. My fingers were dis-attached from my body. I was frozen in time and space, except the time was passing very very slowly. I felt my classmates staring at me, waiting for the show to begin. I saw them start to squirm and look around. Still the fingers didn’t move. “Would you like to do your recital later,” I heard my teacher say in the distance. “Yes,” I said, like I was grabbing a lifeline.
Later came after the next person. By then I had rehearsed again and willed myself to perform, which I did, though I was miserable.
I decided that I was not cut out to be a concert pianist since I couldn’t perform. After that I started noticing a certain self-consciousness whenever people were watching.
A couple of nights ago I had a strange dream. I dreamed I was out in the woods taking pictures with my digital camera. I was capturing some gorgeous shots of flowers and honeybees when a school popped up that had a beautiful candy counter with exotic candies. I started taking pictures of them, getting some great shots, then President and Mrs. Obama drove up in a limo. The school authorities and colorfully clad children surrounded them, and I took pictures of that. Suddenly, Obama saw me and said, “Will you please get some pictures of me and the girls and candy?” I was astounded, even in my dream. But from that moment on, I could not take another picture. The lens fell off my camera. I pushed buttons that didn’t respond. I dropped the camera on the ground.
It’s pretty crazy when a person’s anxieties creep right into their dreams. Of course I was embarrassed to death because of all my fumbling. Finally the Obama’s went on their way, and I was left with no pictures, a broken camera and a broken heart.
I’ve decided I don’t care what people think. I’m going to do my best in spite of them watching. I’ll keep you posted about my success.