Good morning everyone. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about performance anxiety and how it holds me back, or rather, how I hold myself back. I’ve mentioned having stage fright many times online, so I’m sure this isn’t news to you.
The funny thing is, I’ve always been this way. I remember back in school, even as far back as elementary school, I’d always avoid speaking in front of the class. I’d take an F before I’d let myself go up there.
When you’re growing up, you’re obviously going to have some strong insecurities. Puberty is hell when it comes to confidence. I think a lot of people become insecure about their bodies or appearances more than anything. Sure, there were a few things about how I looked that bothered me, but they took the back burner to how I spoke. I absolutely hated my voice and my accent.
This issue spawned way before puberty, though. I remember becoming way more aware of my voice when I was about seven or eight years old. At that point, I had moved from Hawaii to the Philippines. Obviously, I spoke English, and they didn’t. They knew enough English to manage around me, but I would often have to repeat myself and clarify what I was trying to say. It was all quite embarrassing for me. I also experienced something traumatic around this time that would ultimately destroy my confidence. It made silence a great thing.
I’d often try to avoid conversations, but that wasn’t easy as a half-breed foreign child. EVERYONE, and I mean everyone, wanted to talk to me. Most of them had never seen anyone from outside of the country before, so I was sort of like a novelty item to them. Naturally, this lead to me hate meeting anyone.
After around two years of doing this, I got sick of it and just started speaking to everyone in their native dialect. They were all shocked at how good I was at it. The entire time I had been there, I lied and said I didn’t understand them, and that I wasn’t learning their language. At this point, I completely stopped speaking English. A lot of them would ask me to, just because they wanted to hear a foreigner speaking it, but I always refused. Of course, I did make mistakes when speaking their language, and I did still feel very insecure about how I sounded. I developed a terrible stuttering problem, and I could barely get words out when I did try to speak.
Of course, public speaking was a no-no. There was no way I’d be able to do anything like that. I believe that’s what also drew me to video and art. I didn’t have to act since my little brother was always the star, and when I drew stuff, I could just show people what I wanted instead of explaining it to them.
I really didn’t challenge myself until high school where I did finally push myself to get in front of people. I was especially scared at this point because I had this terrible Filipino-Hawaiian hybrid accent that the other students couldn’t properly identify. I was probably going to make myself look like an idiot, but fuck it. Surprisingly, the world didn’t end, but I still hated getting up there. The only thing that sort of changed my view of myself was my Senior Army Instructor. Yes, I at one point was a student cadet, which totally lowered my street cred. Anyway, my Sergeant had pulled me to the side one day and told me that once the nerves wore off, I really had a presence when I spoke at the podium. I thought he was joking (and this was a man who NEVER joked) so I laughed it off. He looked me dead in the eyes and said “No, I’m being serious. I never compliment people unless I mean it,” or something along those lines. Freshly intimidated, I walked away.
This experience didn’t spring me into action or anything. I still kept my public speaking to a minimum and made sure to avoid acting roles in film class. Although, I suppose he did plant a seed that day because I did eventually do something with my voice. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard it before.
Still, nearly two years into this YouTube thing, stage fright manages to kick me in the ass. No, it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be, but it is still a lot for me to cope with. I’ve been reading up on the psychology of performance anxiety lately–all the little bits of us that make us react the way we do. I suppose it is comforting knowing that it’s all natural, and that everyone feels it. Doing what I do, it is easy to get lost, especially when you sit there and compare yourself to others. I see other YouTubers who are able to turn on a mic and do everything in one take. That obviously takes skill, and while I wish it was that easy for me, it is not. I haven’t completely figured out my way of doing things yet, but I’m slowly getting there. Taking the time to figure it out will be worth it in the end.
Last thoughts: Thank you Sergeant Koki, and NIB by Black Sabbath has been stuck in my head for a week.
Have a great day.