I get stage fright. Whether I’m about to go on stage or give a presentation or go to a cocktail party or open one of my art shows, I get stage fright. Given that much of what I do is give presentations and have art exhibits, it can a problem. To add to it, I really love public speaking so stage fright is something I am learning to navigate.
In our family, my stage fright has a name—A Case of The Nanas. See, when we were dating, my (then) boyfriend (now husband) and I went to an Art Walk one night. If you haven’t been to one, they are a lot of fun. A neighborhood of shops and galleries shows work of (usually) local artists—there’s music, usually some snacks, even wine sometimes. It’s a great kind of event and creates precious exhibiting and selling opportunities for artists.
So there we were, walking around town popping into stores to see what other artists are doing and if they might be good a good gallery or shop for my work. We get to one gallery that’s a bit fancier than the others. I look down the long hallway and see a table of older ladies having a chat outside the gallery door.
And I freeze.
My then boyfriend now husband says encouragingly, “Go on, go talk with them. Show them your postcard.”
“What?” he asks gently.
My breathing gets heavy. My fingers tingle. My mind goes blank.
I start to feel choked up. And teary. And so mad at myself. I know what’s coming. I have to get out.
“I can’t. I just can’t.”
I turn and run out the door and around to the corner, back to our truck. I can feel it rising—the overwhelm.
TBNH catches up to me, concerned. “Are you ok? What’s going on?”
I am sobbing at this point because this is what happens.
“I just. I can’t. I don’t know what to say. And then I got emotionally overwhelmed. And. And. Well I had to get out.”
“But I don’t understand,” said TBNH (did I mention he’s a retired Marine who served 22 years did a tour in Iraq?) “it was just a group of older ladies.”
I gasp, trying to catch my breath. I try to calm down but I am so embarrassed and frustrated with myself.
He holds me close and whispers, “It was just a bunch of Nanas.”
I snort, laugh, and cry at the same time and, at last, catch my breath.
So that is The Story of How We Identified that I Have a Case of The Nanas.
I didn’t go back in to the gallery that night.
Even now, six years later, I can still get overwhelmed, but it’s not usually that bad anymore.
How about you? Do you get stage fright? How do you cope?
I will say that I’ve found one strategy to mitigate The Nanas that I’ll talk about in my next post—so stay tuned.