My heart started pounding, my hands became sweaty and my knees became weak like mom's spaghetti - wait that's Eminem's line. Oops!
I felt dizzy, I swallowed large gulps of water, and prayed that I would not fuck up. I walked out on stage, sat down in the first seat, and pretended that I didn't see the 50+ parents staring back at me. I waited patiently, rearranging my sheet, as the rest of the class came out. Mr. Nakahara (I hope I spelled that right), walked out on stage and the audience clapped. He raised his hands and in preparation, I raised my violin to my right shoulder. Everything after that was a blur, but when it ended, there was a round of applause and a huge grin on Mr. Nakahara's face. I did it, I finally performed at my very first orchestra concert as the first seat.
Fast forward to some 15+ years later and I have forgotten how to read notes, lost my violin (some where at my parent's house), and am completely regretting ditching it back in middle school. I was heavily bulled during that time and to ease the verbal abuse, I gave up orchestra in 7th grade and told myself that it wasn't "cool" to play violin. Yes, it was one of stupidest thing I ever done - but who's to say that I can't start again right? One day. When I live in a home, not apartment complex, where my neighbors already hate that I vacuum my place at 10PM every other night.
While there were plenty of things that scared me back then, there's equally more things that terrify me today. From being a little over a year away from the big 3-0 to realizing that I probably can't afford that 4-bedroom house by the beach that I've dreamed of. Don't you hate it when reality kicks you in the ass? Some things are out of our control, but there's always one thing you are always in control of and that's YOU.
How you act and react under stress/pressure determines your outcome. I get anxiety every time I have to do a panel, but I'm also extremely happy for the opportunity and will never turn it down simply because I get nervous. You should never let your fears hold you back, from your doubts to naysayers, you are in full control of your actions.
Here are 3 ways to fight your fears before that big day (whatever it may be):
1. Be AWARE: If you Google "fighting your fears" you'll see the acronym "AWARE" pop up. It's self explanatory but I'll save you the search -
A: Accept the anxiety. Don't try to fight it.
W: Watch the anxiety. Just watch it and when you notice it, scale your level of fear and start to breathe longer on the out-breath.
A: Stands for 'Act normally'. ...
R: Repeat the above steps in your mind if necessary.
E: Expect the best.
Accept that you have anxiety and get anxiety because it's nothing to be ashamed about. Everyone gets anxiety and if you don't, you're either too full of yourself or full of shit. Pay close attention to your breathing and take short breathes when you start feeling the onset of anxiety. Breathing is key and doing this alone has helped me plenty of times.
2. Do what makes you happy or go to your happy place: This sounds like something from a shrink's office but if you do something that guarantees to lift up your mood, why not? Before the big day, I love visiting the beach and staring at the ocean. That's my happy place, the beach. Not a huge surprise since I live in LA. Wherever your place to just think, relax, and be yourself is, go there and spend an hour or two (or until you feel calm enough to return home).
When I can't reach the beach, I play my favorite album or songs - turned up and tune everything else out. We all have that one song that just makes us feel better right? Listen to it and if necessary, over and over again.
3. Talk and act it out: Some people prefer the practice makes perfect scenario, which works for speeches and public appearances. Vent about your fears/worries, talk about your anxiety, and practice how the day will go for you. Visualize how you think it'll go and don't forget to imagine everyone in their underwear. (Just kidding, don't be a pervert).
If for some reason, none of the above work, then click on over to these articles and read some more!