Now I am not diagnosed with anxiety, but I do have a lot of “anxious” moments, as does everyone. I started performing when I was in second grade as a recreational cheerleader. Being so young and performing in front of small crowds and during the annual showcase was really fun for me, I loved the thrill of it, and so I kept it up until I was in eighth grade. When I got into high school I did color guard and performed in the half time shows at my high school with the marching band. I also had a chance to perform my junior and senior year at the biggest arenas I have ever performed in, MetLife stadium. It was every young performers dream to perform here, and I was not even scared. After football season ended my drive for performing was still in me so I joined an independent color guard called Pegasus Too. Since performing in gyms are different than performing outside on a football field the experience felt more intimate with the audience. When the season ended I ended up retiring for two years of performing to focus on college. But as I was in college I felt this hole in my heart missing performing and it made me go back this year to Pegasus Too. I had no idea what I was getting myself back into, performing as much as it is fun can also be very intimidating. When you don’t perform for two years going back into it again felt new to me again. Before shows I remembered how I would feel, excited because I knew what I was doing and have had so much experience in front of crowds. Not that I’m not excited to perform now but now that I am not as used to performing my anxiety creeps up on me when I least expect it too and makes everything feel faster than what it is. Thankfully I know how to cope with it during performances so when I mess up I always know how to jump back into it.
My first show back I remember physically shaking and having what felt like hot flashes during the times where I was not doing much but I pushed through and felt great at the end. After that I knew I would be performing more this season and tried different techniques to stop this feeling from happening before it took over.
I practiced breathing before performances, I know this may seem clique but when you know how to breathe properly by taking deep breathes and closing your eyes it does help. Some people may look at me weirdly if I close my eyes and breathe but as I do this I envision my favorite part of performing, when it’s over. I love the middle of performing too but the best part is once it’s over when you hear the clapping from the audience and feel the positive energy in the air it is very empowering.
Another trick I learned to help is to stare at something the whole time while performing. For example at the show I was at most recently performing at in the gym there was a large “X” taped to the wall at the top of the stands against the wall. I did not use this trick but it did help me look up and can help with people so they can be focused on that and direct their attention on that rather than the crowd.
Focus on you and not the people. Most people like me get intimidated by all the judging faces, but what you should be focused on is yourself. Are you performing properly? Are you counting in time with everyone? The face that judges you is not the one that knows the counts to the show, you are there to perform the counts to them. Even though you can’t shy away from the audience while performing remember to only focus on yourself and there is a way to not allow yourself to be hypnotized by them (no that doesn’t mean imagine them in their underwear). Practice not seeing them, what I mean is when you perform the only thing you see is the people and that alone is very intimidating, (it sounds harder than it seems) just imagine the stands being empty and imagine you are performing in front of nobody or maybe a smaller group of people you are excited to perform in front of, it makes things easier.
One last thing everyone needs to know when you perform is do not let the adrenaline get to you. My band director used to tell us this all the time and before my first performance I had no idea what he meant but now I’m glad I do. What I mean is that excitement you get that seems unbearable, learn to cool it down. My instinct before performing is always adrenaline but learning how to cope with it can be complicated. This ties into what I was saying before about the “focus on yourself” when you learn how to understand yourself, count on time and focus on you and your moves while performing that adrenaline will make you shine so bright and everyone will know it.
I know this all may seem so clique and “harder than what it seems” but at the end of the day no matter what you are performing always have this in your mind too.
- Someone probably didn’t notice that you messed up (from a crowd’s point of view not judges just throwing that in there).
- Time is only temporary so enjoy the time you have while performing
- Don’t focus on the mistakes you make while performing focus on getting back into it as efficiently as you can. If someone can look at you and notice you made a mistake but got back into it they would be more impressed by the way you handled it and yourself rather than the mistake.