Three Phases of Stage Fright
Stage fright is exhausting. Like physically and mentally exhausting. The worst part about it is that there is literally nothing you can do about it. Well sometimes. The amount of adrenaline that pumps through a person's body while experiencing stage fright is crazy though. I once experienced a steady flow of stage fright for approximately 5 hours and when I got home that afternoon, I was ready for bed. Stage fright also isn’t just one size fits all feeling- for me, it often comes in phases.
Phase one is being nervous about the activity itself usually farther in advance. It’s the wanting to do well, wanting to convey your message properly, and it’s wanting to be successful.
Phase two is realizing that you’re nervous and that your hands are shaking and you’re getting sweaty and you don’t want your audience to notice these symptoms but that makes you more nervous.
Phase three occurs moments before you go “on stage” where you feel like you’re going to throw up and that your stomach is in sailors knots and you’re about to run home and hide in your bed underneath a mountain of blankets. But you don’t and you have to perform with all of those instincts anyways.
I learned that 40% of people have stage fright. That means 60% of people don’t understand what it’s like for your mind and body to go through these three phases and the stress that goes along with it. They also don’t understand that these phases can be experienced for days on end or sometimes during a very short period of time. If you find yourself in the 40% you can probably relate when I say how annoying it can be for those 60% of people to try to tell you how to get over it. Believe me when I say that people with stage fright have tried every trick in the book to not be nervous and a lot of times, they don’t work. Here are some of my techniques:
The Nonchalant: “I don’t even care how well or poorly I do” “I don’t care about these people anyways” “I don’t even care what I’m doing.” “None of this matters”
The Haughty: “I am way better than these people.” “I am literally the best performer in this entire room.” “Hey audience, you’re welcome.”
The Optimist: “What a fun opportunity!” “Everything is amazing and I’m going to crush it!”
The Futurist: “Just get it over with and then you’ll be good” “Think about how relieved you’ll feel when it’s all over.”
The Negative Reinforcer: “You are an idiot for being nervous” “What is wrong with you? Suck it up!” “No one even cares about your performance, so why should you?”
The Realist: “Hey, yup, here we are again. Still nervous? Ah that’s okay, but guess what, you survived the last time you were nervous. You prepared so well and what’s the worst that could happen, really? Now what’s the likelihood of that happening? Thought so.. You’re fine!”
Truthfully though, they sometimes just don’t work. If you’re like me, those tricks never work. If they do work, it isn’t going to be because the 60%-ers suggested it. It’s going to be because maybe the individual has performed so many times that it magically got easier. It may even be because they are using essential oils, or supplements, or even prescribed medication to control their anxiety. However, until that person finds their own solution to combat stage fright, an assortment of mild to extreme symptoms will rule over us.