I may have mentioned before that I am a long time sufferer of anxiety and one of the big reasons I put music on a back burner for so long was because of my lack of confidence and my resulting stage fright.
Understandably, before that first January 2018 show, I was preoccupied about how it would affect my performance. In the past, I had had acute responses to stress and although I had managed those occurrences pretty efficiently, I still hadn't look into deeper reasons and found ways to at least palliate with the trauma incurred.
Around the new year and early January, I was house/cat sitting at my friends house and while browsing their book shelves I found a short self-help book on anxiety that was pretty insightful, and which prompted me to look into it more and so maybe I could find ways to "cope" with it.
Well, in my case anxiety has increasingly been affecting my daily life for years in little yet significant ways. For instance I may appear flaky to some, but in reality, the reason why many times I don't make it out the house and to people's gathering/party/meet is because I get so anxious about getting ready and the thought of meeting with people I may or may not know. I can for instance go through the entire motion of getting dressed and made up just to cancel at that last minute. Interestingly enough, I know that once somewhere I am very open and chatty and most of the time end up having an amazing time.
Now, in terms of performance my stage fright is characterized by uncontrollable shaking/trembling, shortness of breath and a warm feeling around my ears and eyes simultaneously numbing my senses and emphasizing my inner turmoil: NOT FUN and more importantly pretty incapacitating.
Apparently, the root of anxiety lies in "flight or fight response" although performing does not cause any real life threatening danger. I personally started to see it as an overprotective loved one attempting to prevent us from the possible rejection or embarrassment associated with letting yourself being vulnerable in front of strangers.
Personal Ways to Cope
Once I was able to logically understand that anxiety was the result of chemistry + psychology, it gave me the leverage and courage to open up about it to friends. Little did I know how many of us were around! It was really eye opening and inspiring to see that despite what I thought, it was possible to excel even with such a debilitating condition.
It pushed me to introspect and assess the personal reasons why I had to go through it - and still do. I won't go into it cause it would be too long of a post.
Here are a few of my coping mechanisms:
One of the first thing I did was very simple. I am a big fan of podcasts and I was listening to On Being with guest Brené Brown. She was referring of a conversation she had with students and came to the realization that “Fitting in is when you want to be a part of something. Belonging is when others want you.” I remember rewinding that moment and how impactful this was to me. I thought about it and how I had been feeling all in my life and decided at that moment to "adopt a Mantra": whenever I am about to go to the stage or doubting myself, I close my eyes and repeat: "I Belong Here", because I think that there is at least one person in the room or listening remotely that "wants me" and is listening.
Secondly, I know that regardless of how much I learn about it, anxiety is by nature unpredictable; therefore, I make sure to diligently practice so to be able to go into "autopilot mode" whenever it literally takes over me.
Finally, I try to exercise and stay in a relaxing mood most of the time has helped with me being better at "destress".
One thing for sure is that 2018 has brought a lot to the table. I have grown a lot and kept merging into the woman I have always meant to be - and I learn a lot about myself and others on a daily basis: I keep reading, listening to podcasts, reading blogs and publications and self-assess/improve on a daily basis, and try to share what I am going through so to maybe inspire some people out there.
Thank you for reading!
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