Giving things a go and trying something new, is one thing, to intentionally put yourself in. In my last post, I encountered my most stressful job ever, I am going there again today. So I thought it would be interesting to write a before and after, not only for my own record, but maybe it can help you or someone you know.
My heart is pounding like I drank 3 cups of coffee. My stomach has the vibrations of a small earthquake. My whole body is tense and I keep reminding my shoulders to relax. Sometimes I feel paralyzed by fear and can’t move. As if I’m in great danger, except this threat is my job and it’s something I choose to subject myself to all the time. It’s a remnant of our ancestry where the danger was tigers and lions. Now it’s people and their expectations on me. I can’t shake it, it’s found me and won’t let go. I try once again to relax, and when I do, I just feel exhausted. My head is messy and foggy. I stopped drinking coffee ages ago and currently only have an on-and-off relationship with this hot steaming beautiful delight because of the anxiety and hormonal imbalance it brings.
I feel like an addict and I’m having horrible side effects. COME ON LINNEA! It’s ONLY a job!
“You’ve done it for years!” my therapist shouts across the ocean.
“Yes, but… “ I start…. “I wish I could flip a switch and I’ll be my old cool and chill self again.”
Who I think I used to be is irrelevant and not helping me now. Instead, I have to affirm and remind myself: I am not in danger, I am not stressed. It’s an old human survival instinct. The last time you did this job you had a horrible horrible time, but the worst is over, you have done it once and survived… you even got paid to go through it! Now you take that knowledge and you take this focus and you use it to your advantage. You bring extra bits that you might need and anything else that happens isn’t your fault. They have hired you to do your job with your expertise and they asked you back! They don’t know it was the most horrible experience you’ve ever been through. They don’t know about your worries and anxiety.
Ok, let’s also try rational thinking. You know how to be a sound engineer. You know most of the gear you will be using. Although you might not know where things are, that’s their job, to tell you where to find them. You know they are a bit disorganised and that frightens you, but once again, that’s their fault and if things run late because of it, it’s not your fault. Even if anything was your fault, why is that so scary!? You are a problem solver and you are great at it. The last gig you did there had lots of problems and you solved all of them. The gig went great and everyone except you was pleased. You will arrive before you are needed. You will sign in and get the keys, you will pick up equipment that is needed and you will set it up and do the job. The hotel’s system is difficult and if you need help with it, call someone. Ask for help. You have never been scared of asking for help and asking questions, so why the need to be so perfect and independent!?
After I finished writing the above I wrote to my friend who also works there. I asked for help. Ten minutes later I heard back from the music director and I now have all the info I need to do the job. I have calmed down. It’s in the same room I did last time, except this time it’s not a nine-piece band but two speakers talking. It should be simple enough and this guy will be there too. I am calm, I tell myself, but my aching body tells me otherwise. Yes, the crying and paralysis are over, but I am still anxious…
To be continued for when I get back tonight…
I did it! With zero problems! Well, there were two problems, one system problem that wasn’t down to me, just their complicated system. The other was a recording thing. I forgot I had to select the desk instead of the interface! Such an easy thing!!! Almost frustrated by how simple the fix was!
I had been super early, got-a-sandwich-in-a-café-nearby-and
-watched-some-Netflix-early. I knew where everything was, I made several choices, like the size of the speakers, that turned out perfect. Everything went smoothly. This time even I was pleased after it all.
I got on the tube, elevated, with that rush that only comes from a successful gig. It went amazing!
So would I do it again? Yes. Yes, I would. I have already booked a Drag Bingo and a party on the rooftop overlooking London. I can’t wait to come back and continue to kick ass! I repeat, what a rush it is to have a successful gig!
Remember, it’s not a tiger, it’s a gig.
I have an app I dearly recommend called Worry Tree. It’s a simple app with prompts for finding solutions to our worries. You write down your worries, then you can either decide to deal with it now or later, but you have to yourself come up with a solution. Even if the only thing you can think of is three deep breaths. I have the paid subscription which also allows you to fill in what kind of categories your worries fall into, like black and white thinking, catastrophizing, or a fortune teller (the ones I often fall into). So if you suffer from stress, worries or anxiety I highly recommend this one.