beyond the nervous shit
I did a thing. It was a big thing for me. HUGE. And I did it all without needing to have the nervous shit.
What is the nervous shit, you ask?
Whenever I am about to do something that I find scary, like jumping off Waimea rock back in the day, when I taught my first yoga class, worked with my first client, gave birth, (well, we all go at that time, so I won’t take any credit for that), or did any presentation/performance, I would get so nervous that I would have to shit. It was inevitable and became such a constant that during the rare times I did not feel it, I would think something was wrong, like I must not be nervous enough and what I was about to do would be absolute literal shit as a result.
So there you have it, the story of the nervous shit.
Back to that big thing I mentioned and the sad reality that I still feel a hint of shame about being perceived as bragging about said big thing, that I pepper the intro with a story of the nervous shit, using humor like a lean-to, ‘til I feel comfortable enough to just say that I AM VERY FREAKING PROUD OF MYSELF. There. Phew.
For a long time now, I have mentally entertained the desire of becoming some sort of speaker or presenter. I have always loved acting, so clearly that involves a stage and performing, but being that I know I am here on this planet to help-via art or words, to teach in any fashion or counsel, I know I have something to offer that is uniquely creative.
I read something the other day about how we never TRULY see ourselves. Neither do the people in our life. Whether it’s the grocery store clerk, the man we just ran by, our children, best friend, or partner, they just see THEIR version of us, just like we only see OUR version of us; none are objective and all are bias in some way, so WE (the collective we) never truly see who we actually are. This can either be viewed as deeply depressing or quite liberating. I myself find that I vacillate between the two, much like the cat in Paula’s video- 2 steps forward, I take 2 steps back.
Let’s take this on face value: so if this is really true, then IDEALLY, there is no need for fear or the nervous shit because we don’t own nor cannot see anyone’s perceptions of our performance, including our own. Alas, the brain makes this very difficult and often reigns supreme. But in this case, I moved through it and did the damn thing. WELL. So well that I had moments where I was able to pause and look out at the audience and think, “Holy shit, this is awesome. I am doing this.” You know those moments when you are involved in something beautiful and you take that time to pause and really take it in? Yes, in this case, mine was promptly followed by a brain full of color bars while I forgot what I was supposed to say next, but did a nervous cough and continued nonetheless.
You see, I was asked to do this. Someone thought of me, asked me, and more meaningfully, trusted me to do this. So I took it seriously and rehearsed for about a month prior. Wrote it out, practiced for a bit, didn’t like it after all, then re-wrote it. Loved it, practiced it just enough for it to fit into that happy, comfortable middle seat between memorization and still yet able to improvise.
I really just saw it as a conversation about meditation, and instead of focusing on why meditation is (OBVIOUSLY) good for you, I focused on how WE all know this, but we aren’t doing it and WHY we aren’t doing it? Then I discussed the WHY followed by the one reason that I feel we all NEED to meditate that most people aren’t aware of and is not discussed in the research because it is a qualitative result, and not a measurable, quantitative one. I then led everyone through the meditation, and my awareness of how it went came in layers: seeing everyone’s faces as they came out of the meditation, realizing I was done and no longer had to have the nervous shit, getting the immediate feedback and support from my husband, having strangers stop me and tell me about their experiences, sometimes with tears in their eyes, hearing genuine praise from our friend’s and Mike’s colleagues, (which was harder to hear and believe than from strangers-like they’re supposed to say it or something), and then even weeks later, seeing the photos that were taken of the event, solidifying that the experience did happen and something was felt and shifted.
I still feel very proud when I think about it and look forward to the next time that I get to do something like it. Not only do we not truly see ourselves, we are capable of so much more than we know and beyond. For me, it was beyond the nervous shit.