I think pretty much everyone has at least once in their lifetime experienced anxiety in one way or another. Personally, my anxiety is a good old friend I have had with me for years. It is something I always have struggled with and there is different reasons to why that is, but some reasons that stands out the most is; I am a perfectionist and I am not best friends with failure.
For a lot of people, I think it is hard to admit that you suffer from anxiety and the impact it may have on your life. I used to be like that because I felt like I was overreacting.
In my previous blog post ‘A lesson about fun & failure,’ I briefly mentioned and touched on the subject about failure. My anxiety, and probably for a lot of people, is linked to the fear of failure.
I have studied music for many years; I began at the age of 11 to play classical piano. I love playing the piano, and I learned sight-reading from an early age. I played Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and I to this day absolutely love their compositions. But, what I could not get my head around was that I could not play those pieces perfectly every time. I got so angry with myself for messing it up to the point where I stopped enjoying playing the piano because I felt like I was failing.
Throughout college, I had to go through plenty of live performances, all of which I suffered terrible anxiety attacks from. I simply did not want to be on stage; I could not deal with the pressure and the possibility of failing. The pressure I put on myself, not anybody else, I’ve realised now later in life.
This is one of the main reasons I chose to work behind the stage and what makes me love and care so much about live performances. For me, it is so important that artists feel comfortable whilst being on stage because I know what it feels like when you don’t.
Performance anxiety is so important to acknowledge and to deal with in all aspects and careers of life. We put so much pressure on ourselves, from such an early age, it affects our mental health severely. It’s good to be ambitious, but when is it too much? At what point do we tell ourselves ‘hey it’s getting a bit too much now’?. Especially within the music industry, it is a very fast-paced industry and you’re expected to be multi-talented from a young age.
Sometimes it is not about overcoming your anxiety, sometimes it is merely about becoming friends with it. Nowadays I handle it in such a way that I give myself some time and space. I analyse what is going on in my life, usually my anxiety flares up when I’ve got too many things going on at the same time and really should’ve said no to a couple of jobs. I get terrible anxiety when I am new to things, especially jobs, to the point where I feel nauseous and overthink every possible scenario that might happen. But when this happens I tell myself that everything will be ok, one way or another.
We are only human in the end of the day, and as I have learned along the way, it is perfectly normal to feel anxious sometimes. However, if you feel like you need help to improve your anxiety and mental health do not hesitate to get in touch with your GP. There are also great apps to manage and improve your mental health here: https://apps.beta.nhs.uk/category/mental_health/.