Have you ever experienced extreme self-doubt and fear?
I had this happen to me recently. I have a hard time saying no to things and when I was asked to take part in The Great Debate, without thinking I said Yes. The Great Debate raises money for charity. It’s not a real debate more of a comedy debate where the debaters dress up as characters and tell inappropriate jokes. If you make the crowd laugh the audience will put money in your team’s bucket. This year all the money went to Yaps. If you would like to donate to Yaps you can do so here: www.yaps.org.au/donations/
After months of practice the date was suddenly upon us. Two days before the event I woke up petrified, I had a complete meltdown. I was scared no-one would laugh, I would forget my lines, fall off the stage and make a complete fool out of myself.
Even though I regularly do public speaking, I do not consider myself a comedian or actor. I psyched myself out, it was the first time in my life I developed stage fright.
I was so anxious, I started thinking what would happen if I was really sick, had a car accident or jumped on the next plane out of town. Surely my coach would be able to play my part.
After a few supportive phone calls from the coaches, fellow team mates and past debaters I was convinced it was too late to pull out and the show must go on. The only thing left to do was focus on my character. What would she do if no-one laughed, she forgot her lines or fell off the stage.
For the next two days I practiced her walk, her voice, her timing. I recited my lines in front of the mirror, in my car and while I cooked dinner. (My poor husband and kids!)
The day of the debate arrived and I was calm (or exhausted from waking up at 3am and practicing in my lounge room until 5am). By 9am I was actually excited I wanted the audience to be entertained, I wanted Yaps to benefit and I wanted to get the whole thing over with so I could start drinking champagne.
As I walked into the room full of 200 smiling faces I felt the love and encouragement, everyone wanted us to do well and was on our side. I think most people were pretty happy it was us on that stage not them.
I was the fourth debater, after hearing from The Virgin Mary, The Devil and Cruella De’Vil the time to face my fear had arrived. My character was an innocent looking nun until her black cloak was removed and underneath was a naughty nun outfit complete with fishnet stockings and suspenders. Having the costume helped me to become my character, I wore a blonde wig so the nun looked even less like me.
The hours of immense fear I had experienced faded away and in less than 5 mins I had done it! People laughed (some told me till they cried), I remembered all my lines and I didn’t fall off the stage! Once I sat down I felt as though I had conquered a mountain, I was elated. The adrenalin rush was incredible.
We all play a variety of characters in our lives, wives, mothers, employees, business owners. When you make a conscious effort to dress for the part it’s empowering. Clothing allows us to express ourselves and our character to the world, whatever we choose it to be.
The whole experience made me realise that we often self-sabotage when we are on the verge of greatness. In the end the naughty nun saved me from myself.