Fight Fright: Sing and Swim!

Pardon me, I need to analyze “out loud”, and I’d appreciate any input.

I usually battle stage fright, but in this performance,

I was actually excited to perform this song but my whole body was nervous! Quick pulse, shorter breaths, tight throat, even trembling hands! Could it be I’m so used to fear, that excitement can feel like it too? Same symptoms (quick pulse, short breathing, choking and trembling) right? Plus I’m violating a rule I’ve been teaching: as you are in rehearsal, so you will be in performance. And I NEVER rehearse holding a mic or even standing still. So I guess I should either set aside a place for myself to stand with a mic and sing while at home…or just sit on a bar stool with the mic on a stand while performing.

Irl knows (even the neighbors) how I perform this song at home, and this is not even close. I was disappointed because I thought that because I was looking forward to performing, that meant I had conquered my stage fright. But man, how my physiology betrayed me as soon as the music started. I was calmly talking to the audience, as Mark told me to, before I sing. But the music went on, and I stood up — and started shaking. I swear there was no nervousness in my mind and my heart. My daughters are practicing a word they learned on The Upside Down Show: apprehensive.

I’m wondering now that maybe I was really just excited? I love the song, not just because it’s a Streisand version, but because of what it was saying: we are standing in God’s presence on holy ground. I know that’s more than enough to send any person trembling, but God is my greatest fan. The encouragement I had been denied as I was training, I am constantly getting in my heart from the sweet Spirit of Jesus. Because of Jesus, the last thing I am in God’s presence (which is everywhere I am) is terrified.

But this was a good experience, no matter how mediocre I sounded. I’m learning that I’m no longer afraid, that there is an alternative explanation to my body’s nervous reaction to singing solo. I’m a pretty competent  back-up singer, and my years in Windsong and college choirs as an alto — even if I’m really a soprano —  has trained my ears for almost instant harmonization. As far as ability is concerned, I’m on the excellent side.

But years of fear, criticism without correction and rejection seem to have frightened me into mediocrity, that it’s become a reflex response. That Feb14 performance, singing On Holy Ground, has shown me that even if I’m no longer afraid to face people with my lopsided face, the response of fear has been imprinted into my body that it just reacts as it has always done, even with an opposing command from the brain.

I know that this is how my body responds to swimming. I love being in the water, but when I was about three, I had tripped while playing by a river and fell face down on the water by the bank. I can still remember the sensation: the sound of the rushing water, the twinkling sunlight on the bubbly surface — and the panic and fear in my parents’ eyes and voices when they plucked me out. And after that, I was no longer allowed to play in the water.

I can actually do the backstroke now, but whenever I try to crawl (free style), my heart starts to beat fast. Then panic sets in.

Frustrating.

I wish there was a swimming pool close by where I can show my fearful memories that there’s nothing to be afraid of. But it won’t be instant. Just as I know that just because I’ve started to figure out the truth about my stage fright, it doesn’t mean I’ll be the next long-winded belter after Streisand and Dion.

But hey, this is a start.

Sing and swim. ^_^

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