**I was a senior staff writer of THE ROCK, the official school paper of San Pedro College.
*I made this article last January 16, 2008
Fry me to death?
A guide in beating the odds of stage fright
By: Raymond “Ube” Umpa 01-16-08
A guide in beating the odds of stage fright
By: Raymond “Ube” Umpa 01-16-08
Whoever has the guts of saying he had completely got rid of stage fright can now stop reading this article, drop this magazine and throw it on my face! Then, I would get the microphone and say, “and the Oscar’s best actor goes to….”
Generally speaking, we can not really totally overcome stage fright, but we can control it and use it for our advantage. We must always bear in mind that we have authority over our body through the faculties of our thoughts. As what we’ve known about the law of attraction, “thoughts become things.” Whatever we think at a moment, believe that it will happen --- and it surely will.
All throughout my experiences as a performer, I had heard a lot of the resounding symphony of applause and the energizing resonance of the screech of hundreds of spectators. I had stepped my feet on many stages, been the darling of the crowd and had enough experiences with the art of entertaining people. Yet, until now, I still carry with me the butterflies in my stomach. I know those butterflies that have lived in me since my first exposure in a large audience when I was 5 years old, until my recent disclosure with a large group are still a 100 percent the same. I don’t know how they were able to live that long without me intentionally wanting them to stay, and without me nurturing their health and watching them as they grow. But, yes, I am sure about it. I said so, since I can still remember the same feeling when I was a child and compare it now that I have grown up. Each time I stand up in front of many people and do my thing, I still feel the same reaction. I can still feel the same machinery-like beating of my heart, coupled with kussmaul’s respiration and diaphoretic hands. There is still this state of frigidity every time I am caught in the sphere of thinking about who will be watching, how will they react and how will I even manage to take a single step forward.
As always, there is an endless list of thoughts that take charge on me. So, I became slave to it, and my body then, embodies what these thoughts impose. The deadlock in any exposure to a large group always comes before we stride out of the backstage and into the center stage. Obviously, it intensifies as the moment comes closer to its actualization. Yet, based on experience, these uncomfortable feelings are not that strong enough to sustain itself and completely ruin our chance of leaving a good impression to the audience. Any performer would know that moments after we have managed to be on stage, got the attention of the crowd and felt the heat of our momentum; our body tends to slowly go back to its normal state. Then, all we can feel by that time is the warm appreciation of the group and the smouldering heat of our passion to entertain the audience. I do not really have a solid explanation about how and why these things happen spontaneously. But, as a performer and a speaker, I know by heart, that I get my strength as I go along. Perceptibly, I can not really discover what I am capable of doing if I have not had the courage to take the risk of going out of my comfort zone and say YES to stardom!
I had been through the ups and down of performing before a group, and of course, I had tried so many times to completely eliminate stage fright. Yet, I had never been triumphant on it. Then, I found out that stage fright can not really be eradiated a hundred percent. Nonetheless, it can be reduced to a tolerable level and as I have said, we can always use it in our advantage.
So does it mean that I am now anticipating that every time I would speak or perform before a large group, I would always have the same intensity of shaky knees, trembling hands, dry mouth, tight throat, hyperactive heart and lungs and highly unstable gastrointestinal peristaltic movements? --- Of course not!
Now that I became more aware of its presence and was able to recollect on my experiences, I had managed to formulate a remedy in controlling stage fright. I know for sure that these steps are not new to us, yet these simple things just happened to be the fundamentals in the course of beating the odds of stage fright. In order for us to remember it easily, I decided to present it in a mnemonic, “F-O-C-U-S.”
Indeed, focusing is really a must in any field of work. We can be more productive in our task if we only pay attention on to what is in front of us. Meaning, we must get rid of unnecessary thoughts that would just divide our attention and could even hinder us in targeting perfection in our task. To accentuate the importance of focusing even better, I will now present this mnemonic.
F-eel free to breathe and pray.
We have unlimited AIR to breathe in, more so it has no extra charge. So take the most of it as much as possible. Believe me, after a series of deep breathing exercises, you will feel more relaxed and more ready to face the audience without even a clue of anxiety.
Being SPCians, of course, we have been told about the value of prayer in all our undertakings. If not, then what is the purpose of having a strong faith in God as one of our core values? We might as well reassess ourselves if we really are for this school. If we should forget a thing before our turn on stage, it should not be our moment of prayer. Prayer has been the tool of many victories of humankind. We need not test its efficacy, doing so would just alter the real purpose of talking to Him. When we pray, we are also feeling half of the price of being victorious. Whatever the outcome would be, it will not be a factor already, as long as we had done our best and had offered our performance for the glory of God --- it is always more than winning first price.
O-ust negative thoughts.
Preoccupation with senseless negativity is a big No-No before one will perform on stage. Thinking about bad things to happen will just add up to our anxiety, thus, worsening the symptoms that we feel at the moment. Eventually, if we will be filled with so much negative energy in our body, then, it would radiate out and manifest itself. As one advocates of “The Secret” said, “What we think, what we feel and what manifests is always a match.”
We will not lose anything if we think of positive outcomes. So why not fill our minds with its power. For sure, our performance will be superb! See, did I just think positively?!
Simply speaking, it means that we must be present. Our bodies must be working attentively with our minds. But of course, it would not be complete without an inner drive that would set the action on fire. There must be the desire to act and do it well. With this, the passion to entertain comes into the limelight. Any effort would serve nothing if not partnered with the desire of the person to do it. Our passion serves as our heart here; it helps us go towards the right destination.
Needless to say, part of collecting ourselves is being prepared with what we are going to do. So, practice is still very essential.
With lots of expectations in our minds before our performance, it would be one heck of a disaster. Of course, part of performing well as I have said is having focus, and we certainly cannot settle a focused mind if we are preoccupied with our expectations, as well of those of our parents’ or those of other people. We cannot carry that enormous amount of pressure if we are to compose ourselves in stage and be at our best performance level as much as possible.
We must not worry about the outcome. We just have to be positive, as said earlier.
Do not even let a second of hesitation dwell on your spirit! You’ve got the power now in your hands. You have what it takes to make or break your moment. Or should I say, now is your opportunity to step out of the shadow of timidity and frail knees; and say “hi” to the glitz and glamour of a performer. Let’s say the sparkling moment only lasts for a short while, but the confidence that it will give you will surely lead you towards taking any chances in life.
Just believe that you are meant for greatness. As they say, don’t settle for mediocrity. Any time soon, you have to decide to go out of your shell and explore. The world is such a big place for just few stars. In fact, I believe that each of us is already a star; we only differ in our radiance. Of course, the more exposure we have to the lights outside, the more we emit this brilliance to the world. So, as early as now, we must already invest on the light that we are going to contribute to the world, especially during times when darkness just seems so strong.
Now that you’ve known these strategies, are you now courageous enough to take chances and feel the nerves of standing before a crowd? You might as well ask yourself, “When was the last time I set my feet on stage?”
As a last piece of advice, we must always bear in mind that the stage is indeed where all the action is…but it is not necessarily the one we see in our gym or at the theatre or auditorium. It could be the very ground that we are standing now. So we should not be afraid of stepping on it, as what Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage and we are merely actors and actresses.”
In our day to day lives, we must take into consideration that we are performing in the largest stage in the universe. Just imagine the people watching our every move, eyeing on our mistakes and criticizing on our weaknesses to the purpose of pulling us down. These realities are far heavier than the reasons that fuel the life of the butterflies in our stomach every time we think of standing in front of the crowd over the man-made stage. If we are not anxious with our performance in the real stage of life, then why should we be afraid of stepping on its replica? ®