LETTER FROM A STRANGER
February 2, 2022
Letter from a Stranger is a new biweekly column in The SIREN that gives people the chance to tell their stories. Some of them are inspiring; some of them are heartbreaking. Each “letter” is a chance for SIREN readers to learn more about the struggles, triumphs, and perspectives of people they know nothing about–but who live right here in our community.
Performing in various different areas is full of positive aspects that anyone can recognize. However, not everyone thinks of the other side of it.
Lindsey, a high school senior from Western, Pennsylvania, shares her experiences growing up performing, and fighting through her stage fright and performance anxiety. She shares how she was able to overcome her fear and how you can as well. This is her story…
“Performing for me has always been a strange experience. I have always loved singing and performing, but the pressure I was putting on myself to perform “well” took the love out of it for me. My friends and family would come to watch my performances and instead of feeling excited that so many people I love came to support me, I felt that I had to prove myself even more. I felt that if I were to make a mistake that would change my worth or make other people in the program or in my family feel disappointed in me.
It feels and sounds irrational to say it now and that’s because it is, but when you genuinely believe something, it doesn’t feel that way. I would practice for hours and hours before going on. So much so, that my voice would start to fade and I wouldn’t get much sleep. No matter how many times my loved ones would tell me that I am talented, I’ll do great, and if I mess up it will all be okay, it didn’t change that I didn’t feel that way.
I used to have panic attacks right before I had to go on. My friends would wipe the tears off my face and give me encouraging words. I always felt ridiculous after I performed for feeling so terrified.
Musicals, singing, dancing, and instrumental performances are all meant to be fun. When you lose the fun in it, it might be time for you to take a break, think about why you joined in the first place, and if this is still something that you enjoy or are gaining something from. There is no point in continuing an activity that should be for fun if it’s only causing you anxiety and stress.
I no longer feel the way I did surrounding performing. Sure, I feel anxious during auditions and before performances, but it’s the normal anxious. The good anxious. What changed the game for me was seeing other people that I love talking to themselves the way that I did to myself. It was so difficult to see people I care about say awful things about themselves. I gave hugs and pep talks to a lot of the younger girls in my program before performances. I became a sort of mother figure to them. They say treat yourself like someone you love. I needed to present a good example for them and that all started with treating myself with more love and respect.
I love performing again. There is a sense of family and community within the group you’re performing with. The bonds you make within those communities, during and because of those performances are so strong. I am beyond thankful for my teachers, family, and friends who helped me through my performance anxiety. As well as, everyone who continuously comes to support me. You are not at all being judged based on your performance. You should feel so proud that you are putting yourself out there. The art that you create and are a part of is beautiful! Please just remember to be kind to yourself and never forget to have fun!”