So there I was on an evening like every other, but this one was different.
My friend had booked tickets for an open mic stand up comedy. I was excited, but more than excited I was anxious, my mind racing like crazy….
What if they made fun of me? May be I should say this or maybe….
By the time we got to the venue I had thought of a hundred things they could make fun of and how I could get back at them.
I wasn’t the one doing the stand up comedy. All this was in the anticipation of what if one of the comedians picked me from the audience to joke about. Maybe they would joke about my weight or maybe my job or maybe ….
Once we reached there I sat in the last row as back as one possibly could, almost merging with the wall. Being a back bencher was nothing new to me. Over the years I had mastered the skill of how not to be noticed.
One by one the comedians came and presented their act. Some were really funny. Some had jokes in their act which were not very relatable and others who were using this as an opportunity to share their deepest darkest feelings. Even though some acts were not funny what I admired was the ability of the comedians to take the feedback or in this case the lack of it, in their stride.
After the show, I was left with this empty feeling. Last few years I have had this drive to put myself out there. Be it my writing or my work. But there is always this force that tries to pull me back into the wall, which gets more intense as I get closer to putting some work of mine out there. It wasn’t like this always.
Theatre was my life as a kid. Being on stage used to make me feel free and I used to love every bit of it. Acting out plays in front of the mirror, memorising all dialogues and flawlessly performing them. I used to be the first person to volunteer for school plays.
Then I took part in this play at the age of 9, playing the historic character of Rani Lakshmi Bai. A fierce warrior queen who defended her throne in the absence of her husband, against the British East India Company. Back then though I knew nothing about her. I kept fumbling my lines couple of times and my teacher out of frustration asked me to go stand on the stage and just lip sync while another person would say the dialogues from the back stage. I was so embarrassed by this that, from that day on I developed a really bad stage fright. The irony of it… I lost my confidence and strength playing one of the strongest women in history.
Confidence was not the only thing I had lost that day. I had lost my dream. The very thing that made me feel free was lost leaving me trapped inside myself. Ever since then I have avoided the stage. I did do a few plays over the years but they either had no dialogues or at the most one liners, which also I would fumble when I went on stage.
The panic attacks were so bad at one time I couldn’t even speak up in a group of people without stammering, feeling giddy with a paralysing feeling taking over my entire body as if I would faint any time. Constantly judging myself more than perhaps the people around me. Making presentations, giving pitch which are critical in my advertising career was a complete nightmare.
Recently I made a pitch without fumbling and the best part was that I was listening to what the client was saying, rather than focusing completely on what I was going to say next, which was the main reason for my fumbles. Thinking faster than I spoke. Anyways that’s another story….
I am yet to face my biggest fear and go back to the place where it all started and face it head on. I had planned to take it in stages. First start writing plays, then maybe direct a play and then act when I felt confident again. Slowly exposing myself to more and more criticism.
But after seeing the comedians it made me wonder, maybe, should I just take the plunge and take part in an open mic.
After all at one point My biggest fear of stage fright was what if people laughed at me but in this case I would be more scared of what if nobody does.
So if people laugh then great and if they don’t… WELL THATS WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED RIGHT!