Creative Mondays #027 – Nervous? Just do it.
Recently I received a scheduling for a puppet audition through The Jim Henson Company. When I was first called about it, I was initially pretty confident I could go in there and nail it. Then, I received the script and all the information about the audition and I was even MORE confident I could go in their an nail it. The character was something I could hit out of the part really easily, the script was funny (something I usually find is quite rare in these situations) and it would just be a tremendously fun project to work on.
Then, just a few days before the audition, I found out something that rattled my confidence completely. Just completely dashed that sense of ‘I got this” completely. The good old Negative Brain took full control. In one instant, I went from confident to a complete mess. “I got this” became, “Not in a million years.” In fact, my negative brain, as if does, started telling me, “Just don’t even do it. That way you won’t be disappointed when you don’t get it.”
Now, my negative brain is not strong enough for me to make majorly stupid mistakes. I completely understand the consequences of not showing up to an audition that The Jim Henson Company has scheduled you for. So, there was no way I was going to NOT go to the audition.
I began thinking about being nervous about something big in your creative career and how it can completely play with your mind. In situations like that you have two choices. Don’t do it, as your negative brain would have you and play it safe. Or, as the old Nike ad says, “just do it.” And really, there is no choice. Just do it.
Nerves are nothing. They are just a holdover from that primitive brain we’ve talked about before on here. They are there to keep you safe. But when you think about things logically you’ll see that nerves can sometimes misguide you.
Being nervous while swimming in shark infested waters is probably a good idea. You could die.
Being nervous when going into an audition, or unveiling your recent painting, or stepping out on stage to play a new song, recite a new poem, read a new story, etc., those things re not likely to kill you. You’ll be just fine. Sure, you may blow the audition, receive criticism, get booed, but is it going to kill you? Probably not. And in the unlikely event that those things happen (how many people really get booed anymore?) they will all be incredible learning experiences of what to do or not do the next time you are in one of those situations.
So, when it came to this audition of mine, there really was only one choice, do it. I studied the script harder than anything I had recently. I worked on my puppetry even more to be spot on when I went in. Part of the audition would be riffing/improv so I thought of things I may say in different situations that may pop up. I made myself completely ready for this audition.
Was I still nervous? Yes.
Was I going to let that nervousness stop me? No way.
Will I get the part? Who knows? But I’m more likely to get it now that I didn’t chicken out and not go to the audition.
If you are nervous about something, just do it.
How do you deal with being nervous about big events in your creative life? Has the nervousness ever won out? Or did you battle is successfully?
I went through this just yesterday!
I had been interested in taking an improv class for a long time now, not out of any specific career drive, but just for fun with the added bonus of getting me out of the house to do things with new people. I live in the Boston area now, so there are options available. Then I discovered that a nearby and well-regarded club had one-day drop-in sessions every Sunday afternoon, perfect for checking the place out! Sounds perfect, right?
I thought so, until about 24 hours before it was time to actually go. The stakes were very low, (no real jobs or opprtunities hung in the balance,) it was just about trying new things with substantial overlap with things I already knew I liked. Still, the negative brain kicked in and kept coming up with reasons why I shouldn’t go, or at least, shouldn’t go THAT day. They were all irrational, based purely on nerves/laziness (and what a pernicious pair those two are!) I pushed through though by reasoning my way through it.
My concerns that I wouldn’t like it? That the place would be sketchy? That the people would be unwelcoming? None of those things held any water when it was all theory. I know that any of them could come true, but how could I evaluate that without even going one time? Ultimately, I knew that even if I went and didn’t like it, at least I would know that. Not going at all would feel like conceding defeat before anybody else knew a game was being played.
I am familiar enough with that sort of behavior in myself to recognize it easily. That does not always allow me to push past it though. Yesterday, though, there were really no good reasons not to go, and my rational and optimistic parts were able to defeat every volley from the negative brain. Even still, I still considered turning back around as late in the game as walking to the club from my parked car.
I didn’t turn around though. I went in and not only had a great time (as was really always the most likely outcome), but I experienced a victory against the negative brain.
Christiana- Great story! Thanks so much for sharing and for conquering the negative brain. And the laziness. Hmmmm, perhaps laziness should be a future topic as it is something that rears its head around here as well. Thanks again!
Your story about “nervousness” was right on, and reminded me of something that I learned from a “mentor” friend of mine 30 years ago. He said a phrase to me that stuck with me all these years and helps me through those nervous times, such as auditions, meetings, shows, interviews,etc.
When I told him I was nervous about doing whatever particular thing it was that week, he said “just go to the other side of your brain. Do it from there”. I guarantee you, if you keep that attitude, you can get through any tough & scary audition, phone call, live show or meeting you need to make it through. Just do it, and do it from the other side of your mind. The “un-scared” side. So try it sometime. It should work for you.
Artie! Thanks so much for commenting! I love this theory and I’m going to try it. Big audition and big project this week. Two perfect times to give it a try. Thanks again!