On Thursday this last week, I sang. I sang and played guitar in front of everyone I work with. It may sound terrifying to a lot of you, but to me the thought was exhilarating. It reminded me of some of the best times of my life singing in front of more than a hundred students at my college church. This particular event was a talent show.
I was stoked for it, and was feeling good up until I sat up on that high stool in front of my 50+ co-workers. Then my physical anxiety symptoms took over; my hands and legs started shaking, my voice felt like it was quivering, and I thought I was going to stop playing at one point. Towards the end I kind of blacked out...I just kept playing and singing despite knowing what I was playing or singing. Only trusting that I could make it to the end. I did, thankfully. And when I finished everyone's applause was thunderous and supportive. My immediate thoughts of myself were disappointment. Although I smiled and bowed, all I could think of was "They're just being nice. I could've done better. I know I've done so much better".
Everyone came up and gave me what I hoped were genuine compliments. I tried to find some sort of hole in them as I said how I got more nervous than I expected and searched their faces for some sort of truth they were hiding. Alas, I found none. I put everyone's compliments up against my own criticism, and somehow found their compliments gradually winning out. Not completely, though. And it made me realize how hard I am on myself. But why?
I think too much. I think about thinking. I analyze my thoughts into 1000 different interpretations that likely don't exist. It takes so much energy! Too much energy. Instead of disappointment, I will shift my thinking to accomplishment. I did something I'm passionate about in front of people I interact with every day. I did better than I thought I did, and I felt like I showed a piece of myself that feels closest to who I am and at the same time doesn't get shown enough. Those compliments meant so much to me, and I am thankful for them. I am thankful for everyone who has encouraged me to share my singing, because I remember a time when I only did it in the car and the shower. I want to do more with it somehow...and I feel like I will someday.
Bottom line is, don't be so hard on yourself. The critical way you see things could be completely different from how they actually are, and you essentially sabotage yourself. Be on your own side for once, and choose you.