performance anxiety

Church of the Advent, Boston.  Photo courtesy of Facebook (Nicholas White)

Church of the Advent, Boston. Photo courtesy of Facebook (Nicholas White)

The original goal was one post a week until the new year.  But this week, it’s been hard to carve out a few minutes to throw down a post…yet I have had so much to say.  It could be because I have been busy with projects and deadlines that fell on this week, but truthfully, this post and my entire week boils down to one thing:  performance anxiety.

  • I have been re-doing the bulletin boards at a middle school this week, in preparation for their site inspection.  This has taken me countless hours, because I feel responsible for boosting their visual culture at the school, and because frankly, that’s what I’m hired to do.  In this role, my creativity and resourcefulness is on full-display, and I worry about making AWESOME boards to make the case for hiring me clearly apparent.  I don’t want anyone to think:  “well, I could have done better than that with that amount of time and money.”


    Reading DOES rock. Also these books open up on the board, with descriptions inside. With more time, I wish I could have added a cutout for every book on the board.

  • Because of these bulletin boards, I haven’t been able to put in my best work at the other two places I work regularly at, therefore, I am imagining my co-workers thinking:  “well, we could have written and researched these things better.”
  • My choir, The Boston Cecilia, has a concert this week, and I’ve been site and social media manager for the 2013 season.  So “performances” scheduled for this week include a host of blog posts, Facebook posts, and emails, all of which I have not kept up with to my personal standards.  All of these are public-facing tasks, and I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to think:  “well, I could have done better than that to promote and publicize these concerts.”
  • In addition to the social promotion pieces, I have a small solo in the 2nd piece of the concert.  Eeeeeeee.  Small, as in, it is approximately 8 bars of music sung.  Yet, it is colossally large to me, because I am starting the entire piece, unaccompanied, therefore I “set” the tempo and feel for the entire piece.  It is glorious and extremely scary to fill a gigantic chapel with only my voice, and on top of performing my best for myself and for the group, I feel like I need to put forth my best sound in order to earn the solo, in a way, so that I and others will not think: “well, I don’t know why SHE got that part, because I certainly could have done it better.”

(Choir solos and auditions are the weirdest expression of ego and humility — offering your voice to the conductor for consideration, and struggling with the duality of portraying yourself as both a show-off and a team player at the same time.  Not my comfort zone.  Definitely something I will dig into more deeply in a different post.)

I know.  I should care less about what others think of me.  Isn’t that what we tell all of our middle-schoolers?  But we live in an inherently public world, and my reputation for these too-many things that I am capable of is truly important to me.  I want to be the person who will come through when people need me, and this week, I am suffering from performance anxiety about being able to live up to all these things that I want to accomplish.  I can only hope that I will be present in the moment tonight to enjoy my solo and concert and put forth my best intentions in my music, but there is a small chance that part of my brain will be planning for our holiday party tomorrow, worrying about our guests who might think: “well, this party is just kinda boring and the food is meh and the house is super trashy.”

I wish I had a muzzle for my brain.