Self Esteem

How To Overcome Your Fear Of Being Seen

If you're anything like me, you feel self-conscious in front of other people. Last time I caught an airplane, I went to the front of the plane to use the toilet right behind the cockpit, and had to wait at the front because it was already occupied. I felt that rush of shame on realizing that the other passengers could see me waiting. Somehow in my head, I imagined them thinking the worst; even though they probably weren't thinking about me at all. In situations like this I like to pretend that other people are always thinking great things like “Wow, he's awesome!” when they look at me, and while that's helpful, it hasn't entirely made the anxiety go away. One of my favorite hobbies is playing music, and it recently gave me the opportunity to confront this fear head-on. I've been playing guitar for around 6 years now, and I can strum up a decent tune on my own or playing with friends. But I get nervous playing in public; I feel anxious and my mind wanders through a series of stressful thoughts like “I'm crap!”, “I'll mess it up”, “They (whoever is listening) won't like it”, “They won't like the song I've chosen”, “My singing sounds bad” etc etc. It's exhausting! The first time I played guitar for an audience was in my guitar class, and although I was nervous it went really well. The teacher wanted us to have a good experience playing in front of people, and the best way to conquer the fear was to play in front of a friendly crowd who were all in the same boat as beginner guitarists. The next time I played in front of an audience was in a comedy club, doing a variation of American Pie with humorous lyrics. I was so nervous that my left hand couldn't make the chord shapes, and the anxiety got worse the longer I played. One of the guys in the audience yelled out “You've killed a great song!” Damn hecklers! Damn anxiety! Damn damn damn damn damn! It was a few years before I wanted to play in front of an audience again. (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago