Nerves: How to Squish Those Butterflies

I audition often–probably not as often as I should, but that’s not the point. I audition regularly enough, so basically I interview, put myself out on the line, open my heart and soul, through a song or a text to complete strangers with a mere hope that they’ll want and choose me. Insert horrific kick ball team selection moments here–it feels terrible to be picked last, or if in theater, not at all.

At the moment of writing this I’m headed to an audition. It’s a big one for me. I’m on a subway and I’m trying to do breathing exercises and releasing tension in my shoulders and listening to other music–anything that will take my focus away from the flip-flopping in my stomach, the wiggly legs, and the voices in my head.
The thing about ignoring problems is that they always butt their head back in. I’m at a sensitive equilibrium, and any shift in my breathing, my stomach or makes me jolt out of it. I’m at an intermediate level of being able to keep my nerves in check, because I have to do it so often. But I’m not going to lie, sometimes I let the nerves win. I’m staring success in the face and I’m going to let my nerves get to me. Oh. I’ll fight them, but they’ll still win. WHY? Why am I going to let a flip-flopping stomach and some wobbly knees take over and ultimately take away my chance?

Lets break down nerves, in a logical thinking way. Ultimately, nerves are created by fears. If you figure out your fears and face them, they should be easier to conquer. Both LL and I live by the thought that if you look at your fear, figure out the worst-case scenario that the situation could bring and then come to terms with the worst possible, there is no reason to be afraid anymore. For instance: the worst possible situation that could happen in the audition I’m headed to is that I’ll say something completely offensive, look completely unprepared, and not perform perfectly: making a bad impression and leading the people in the room to think I’m unprofessional and untalented. Let me dissect this for you and for me, since it always helps to rationalize out a situation to ground yourself. First, I wouldn’t say anything offensive–I’m more professional than that. Second, I doubt I’ll look unprepared, I looked over this music and audition materials for five hours last night—I’ve got this. Looking like I’m unprofessional and untalented—well, both are perspectives, if you think about it. It’s someone else’s perspective of me—which might book me a job, but is ultimately none of my business what someone else thinks of me. They’ll see me and meet me for maybe 10 minutes, which paired with my resume is enough to give me a job, but not enough to know me. So, what I’m trying to say with all of this is the worst could happen, but I’m prepared enough that it shouldn’t all just explode. And, better yet, no one will die or be harmed in any way.

“Nerves” come from fears. We all know that. I’m nervous because I fear I’m not going to get a role. Actually worse, I’m nervous because I’m afraid I’m not an actress, and I’ve put all of this time, energy, and money into being one. Wait—whaaaaat? I AM an actress. I’ve booked many gigs—some that have actually paid me. So, seemingly my nerves and fears are silly.

So how do you beat them? By continually calling them out for what they are and confirming your status as a fantastic, wonderful, unique, talent in the world.

Here are some steps:

1) When you start to feel the nerves, call them out—hey nerves, you’re just fear.

2) Dig deep and figure out what the root of the fear is: For me and auditions and job interviews, its feeling like I’m not good enough (this is generally the root of all nerves.)

Going on a first date: nervous that they won’t like you (“Not good enough”). Nervous that they aren’t who they say they are (Fear of someone lying to you—which you can’t determine until you get there. But you CAN always leave).

Quitting a job, or telling someone some heavy information: fear that they will hate you forever and will spread it around that you’re a terrible person (sometimes these are really silly reactions. If they hate you forever, well at least your last act was honesty. And if a rumor is spread around that I’m a terrible person for being honest… so be it.)

Traveling nerves are a bit of a different creature, but still, it’s a rare chance that your plane will crash, your suitcase will get lost, you’ll die… just make sure to get insurance and take the precautions you feel will make you more safe.

3) Breathe and talk through that fear, or that worst case scenario. Find a safe place, and a safe person to talk to—this does work best with a friend. I find that talking things out to others, and/or writing them out help get them outside of your body and mind, and therefore are no longer part of you. So talk it out; write it out; GET IT OUT.

4) Understand yourself and your fear—I’m not a therapist and I can’t help you completely work through everything, but I’m sure there is a root of your terror. My theatrical ones are that I’m not good enough to book another job, because I see so many of my friends booking work when I don’t. Well, its just not my time. And my close friends, and mother will tell you I’m insane having these thoughts—I did seven shows in 2014. Already this year I’ve done two play readings, am cast in a show, and am in the process of booking another. It will all be ok. (Just FYI, I didn’t book the original show that inspired this post—on this side of it, I’m totally fine; not crying, berating myself, hating myself, etc. Just moving on to the next.

5) Move on to the next. Or the first. Once you’ve talked through the fear, told yourself that it is silly—yes, please use the verbage “its silly” because really, it IS silly that you don’t feel good enough, or that someone will hate you, or that you’re going to die for doing an every day thing. (If you’re terrified of scaling Mt. Everest, that is something I can’t help you with in this blog. At LCL we can coach you through it—email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com to get started!!) Now that you’ve said the thing you fear is “silly” see how you feel.

6) Tell yourself that you are wonderful, awesome, courageous, and amazing. If you are not what this particular opportunity needs—GREAT! There will be another one that is BETTER for you, or you’ll understand reasons why you didn’t get this one. Maybe its because you didn’t really want it in the first place!

7) BE OPEN—this is a big one. After you’ve gone and done and got over your silly fear, listen to the world. If you’re looking for a job, tell your friends and listen to what they have to say. If you’re looking to date, get out there and try different opportunities—try joining clubs or groups instead of continually refreshing your Hinge pool. If you were afraid to tell someone big information, look at that relationship and question why you were afraid—is it you or them?

8) Dive back in! Yes, this is kind of part of number 7… but get back out there. The more you try the more you’ll get over the fears and nervousness. I’m nervous about singing auditions, but I’ll go in and give nary a care about reading auditions. I can cold read Shakespeare and you’d think I had it memorized. Because I’ve DONE so many and have achieved more success. The less nervous you are, the better you’ll do. I’ve conducted many job interviews and been on the casting side of theater—most of the time the person is hired because they are confident. Breed confidence!!

9) Check back in with your fears. If you can still tap them easily and call them “silly” then you’re doing great! If they’re still debilitating, you might want some stronger help than a blog!

Good luck! Remember, breathing is the opposite of nerves—if there is plenty of good warm breath in your stomach, there aren’t room for butterflies!

–Clare

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How To Be Single

If you didn’t read my Valentine’s Survival post, you might not know, but I’m the single one of the Live ClareLesley pair.  Lesley has had her fair share of time being in the single’s pool–just go read her Duty Dating!  But here I am, staring down the start of my 36th year, and I’m single.  For New Years, one of my Goals was to give up dating.  Valentine’s Day, I deleted all dating apps off of my phone.  I decided, at this moment I can’t be bothered with them anymore.  I haven’t stopped dating, I just don’t want to deal with anyone hiding behind their phone or computer any longer–and lets face it, I was tired of having fake relationships with people I don’t even know, through a device.

There are many moments that I wish I had a plus one, but really, I’m in those lovely in-between years where everyone is having kids, and weddings are much less frequent.  So needing a date is not a requirement (not that anyone needs a plus one at a wedding–it’s just preferred).  I’ve become a whiz at how to handle singledom.  I live.  I thrive.  I’m happy!  I don’t understand why so many people hate and dread it.  Being single is a great thing! (A lot of friends in couples say to me that they sometimes wish they were single again because they envy the freedom or alone time or whatever.)  Yes, there isn’t a built in conversation partner in singledom, but hey, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one to be had!  Scroll through your phone or email list right now–I’ll bet you that there are at least five people that you have great conversations with that you haven’t talked to in a while.  Why not hit them up for a conversation, a glass of wine, a movie, an art show?

Being single isn’t being alone.  That is the first thing you have to understand and realize is that all “single” means is that you’re not in a pair.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll always be–unless you choose it.  It doesn’t mean that you’ll end up lonely and alone.  Those are all choices!  You can choose how you want to spend your days.

I’m not going to tell you that I’m always blissfully happy.  Sometimes I have a case of the “mean reds” as Holly Golightly calls them.  Most days are pretty great.  I get to choose all aspects of my day like what to have for dinner, and if I can take a gig on my own (which is sometimes, but rarely annoying).  I don’t have to be home at a specific time, but I don’t have someone to greet me when I get there either… well, my roommate is pretty awesome, but she’s not always home.  I have plenty of great relationships in my life.  But whether its a romantic one of platonic one, relationships do take work and time–whatever you want to get out of one, you have to put in.  People are busy, so reach out early and often!

Here are some tips on how to thrive as a single:

1) Go out and do things.  Yes it sounds simple, and not so simple all at the same time.  Join book clubs, meetups, sports teams, take music lessons or dance classes, join a choir or theater group.  What is it that you most want to do, or always wish you did, or do when you’re on vacation?  Start there and find a group to join!

2) Do things with friends!  If you want to go to the movies, the theater, art museums, concerts, out to eat, out for drinks–anything that you might do with a date–do with a friend!  Set up a weekly date or monthly date with the same, or with different friends.  Maybe even treat this time and they can treat the next (I LOVE this one because it feels like a date)!  Different friends will like different activities, and maybe will even introduce you to new things (and maybe even, wink wink, new people)!

3) Do things on your own!  If you want to go to the movies, the theater, art museums, concerts, out to eat, out for drinks–anything that you might do with a date–do by yourself!  You never know who you’ll meet, and you’ll find that you enjoy doing things on your own.  About the only thing I won’t do by myself is going out to dinner (and that is just because I’m not big on sitting at a table by myself).  I love going to the movies and the theater and even taking a picnic lunch on my own–its fun to people watch, and to see something and have something that is completely mine.  Often if I want to discuss it, I have friends and my parents who are always willing to hear about my adventures afterwards.

4) Find a mantra for yourself when you start to feel lonely, or pathetic, or sad.  For instance tell yourself that you are amazing and surround yourself with a great life.  Say it over and over.  Say it to yourself in the mirror.  Put happy thoughts on sticky notes and place them around the house for yourself to see.  Remind yourself that there is good in the world, and that you are good!  Think of the happy thoughts or the mantra whenever you start to feel down–stave away the sadness!

5) Keep being social.  Whatever this means to you–keep pursuing the avenues that will put you out in the world.  If you want to stay up on dating sites and apps, go for it!  If you want to have a night out with friends and go to bars or parties or gatherings and meet people and possible dates, do so!  You will only date if you keep looking.  Personally, I take sabbaticals from dating.  I will be active for a few months and then take a couple of months off and focus on me–usually, I’m busy doing projects and shows anyway!  To be bluntly honest, dating drives me crazy.  So much rejection happens before you find a good one.  That’s a LOT of negativity, even for my Pollyanna optimism.  Vacations from anything are good for the soul.  Go focus on yourself or friendships for a month or two, and then dive back in, refreshed.

6) Remember that all the love you need is coming at you at any given moment.  It might not be from the exact direction and in the large amount from one person you are looking for, but it is surrounding you.  Your parents, friends, relatives, co-workers all want you to be happy and loved.  And love begets love: so go out and give love to friends, relatives, the homeless, animals, through a mentor program, etc!  You’ll most likely get more love in return!

7) Also remember that everyone feels lonely and alone some days–even those with people sleeping next to them.  No one’s situation is continually perfect.  There are ups and downs of coupledom and singledom no matter who you are.  Its funny in a society that continually allows us to connect, we have put up the biggest walls.  Get out and go meet up with people face to face.  Or even just take a walk or a drive that is different from your norm–changing up your routine is a great jumpstart to happiness.  Being with some one is great, but its also nice to have a little quiet.

8) Get friendly with the quiet times.  You have to be able to live in moments of silence.  I’ve found that I love and treasure them.  They are haaaaarrrrrd at the beginning, but they do get easier.  Find a quiet thing for yourself to do.  I’m a big fan of journaling.  Also lists help you take control.  Maybe yours is knitting, reading magazines, playing a game, working on a puzzle, writing, golfing, swimming, rock climbing.  Whatever it is, make time for it and yourself.  Be aware of your thoughts.

9) Speaking of which: Be aware of your thoughts.  Let them run their course.  If you cannot deal with them at this moment, don’t ignore them; instead tell the thought you don’t have time right now and you’ll get back to it.  I had a teacher in college that said, “you have to acknowledge the elephant in the room before moving on, otherwise all anyone will notice is the elephant in the room.”  Tell the thought you will get back to it.  Think through it when the time comes.  Breathe a lot.  Love yourself.

Remember, the right one isn’t “out there” but instead is inside of you.  When you are truly a whole and complete person within, you will stumble into the right romantic situation.  Focus on being the best you.  Be a full and complete person.  Be the best you, you can be and live life.  To quote Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come.  Even if they don’t, you now know how to be awesome at being single.  And always, Live ClareLesley.

–Clare 

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