the price of admission

On the one hand, I know that I am a good musician and a capable horn player. On the other hand, in the midst of any performance, my mind tells me otherwise.

So, what if feeling liking an imposter, feeling ashamed and imperfect is the cost of being a performer?

What if this is the price I pay for the performance? 

Am I willing to pay this price? 

When I gave up playing in 2011, I did so for a number of reasons, but a large part of it was I sick of feeling this way. It is so tiring to be constantly anxious, waking up with a panicked start every morning what I had screwed up the night before and what I had to play that day. It lead me to a downward spiral of anxiety, depression, inactivity and other unhealthy habits.

When I got back into playing a few years ago, I did it with the clear intention that I was going to help others with performance anxiety, and I felt like the six months I spent doing a show in 2014 was where I confronted all of this.

I thought I conquered. I thought sort of had a clear view of the landscape.

But this is a new level of awareness. 

I have deliberately and genuinely accepted a lot of the physical symptoms of anxiety, even things like mental disarray when under pressure, but this perfectionism is a more pervasive, persistent, deeper and hidden pattern of thinking. As is the heavy feeling of shame after each and every 'imperfect' performance. 

I reckon for these deeper mental behaviours is what is driving the anxiety. In a way, performance anxiety is just a symptom of a broader worry about my whole existence. Shame of imperfection drives the perfectionism.

Around and around we go.

Existential angst.

Deborah HartComment