How I Fell Through Stage Fright


I’ve always loved to perform. You can see the joy in my eyes as a kid in the VHS tapes as I belted out James Taylor in the bath tub. (No, you’re not going to see that video). I would perform in school plays, sing in the chorus and had trumpet solos in jazz band. But then it stopped. I felt uncomfortable in my skin, had braces put on and couldn’t play the trumpet, and didn’t want to be judged.

This may be surprising to people who know me. I’ve been putting on a good act of over-projecting to get it done on stage. In my professional career as an executive director, I was tasked to deliver opening remarks during the first session. My palms would sweat, my throat would close up and my heart rate went on a sprint down a hill. I got through them, but never enjoyed it.

As a coach and business owner, I am solely responsible for promoting and selling my services. I also become frequent as a guest rapper with a Bluegrass Americana band. But now I don’t feel the same level of anxiety and nervousness.

What changed?

Well back in November of 2016, I was called on stage to do my first rap performance. I had no idea it was going to happen and had consumed 2 or 3 glasses of wine. As I heard my name, the initial clench in my chest started, but I pushed through. It wasn’t a perfect rendition, but I don’t think anyone was sober enough to notice. The crowd applauded and I made my way off the stage. Only I misjudged the blinding effects of the stage lights and didn’t see the monitor smack dab in front of me. My left foot caught the corner of the monitor and I knew I was going down. It felt like everything slowed down and I somehow had the reaction to pike my body rather than flail my arms and knock mic stands and people down. So down I went and only the bassist noticed. He plucked me out of my stumble and I snuck back to my seat head firmly in my hands. I was waiting for laughter or “Ouch,” but there was nothing. No one cared or really noticed and the ones who did bought me drinks.

If this was the worst it was going to be, I’ll be just fine, I thought to myself. I haven’t had any falls since then as I am much more aware of my surroundings. I still have a tinge of nerves, but they come and go quickly. I’ve been on stage in front of hundreds of people and I feel the adrenaline and not the fear. So go and fall, go and fail, live out the worst case scenario because chances are they’re not that bad and you’ll survive!

If you’re curious and have a sleuthing eye, you can track down that video on my Facebook page. Good luck!