Conquering stage fright

For years, I had pretty severe stage fright. To those of you who know me, or even know of me, that might come as a surprise. I tend to be loud, talkative, and pretty sociable (humble too). But for years, I hated the thought of a bunch of people seeing me doing anything: presenting in class, acting in a BC Applause or Players show, even doing the announcements. I loved the thought of doing things like that but hated it in practice. 

For one show in middle school they needed someone from the stage crew or electrics to demo a light-up wand on stage before the show started. I volunteered and was ushered backstage. I was told to wait for them to talk about the stuff being sold at the concessions stand. When the time came, I walked out, turned the wand on, and completely froze. I couldn’t see the audience, but I could feel their eyes on me. I hated it. I ran off stage as soon as they stopped talking about that dumb wand. I was shaken and knew I couldn’t do things like that ever again. 

Then, throughout high school, I joined both the crew team and Players. This allowed me to meet a wide variety of new people. These new friends, along with a good number of older ones, really helped me grow. They encouraged me, pushed me, and for better or worse (who am I kidding, of course it’s for the better), shaped me. I once saw a quote that I really liked by author Chuck Palahniuk: “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known,” and I couldn’t agree more. If I hadn’t joined the clubs I did, met the people I did, or made the friends I did, then I wouldn’t have gotten over my stage fright. After all this shaping, towards the beginning of this school year, I was told by people involved in Amazing Ace that I should sign up. Every time I asked them what my talent would be, they never had an answer. They all agreed that I should audition, but not a single person suggested something I could realistically do on stage. I disagreed with all of them. I was still afraid. I remembered what happened to me last time I was on a stage, and really didn’t want to repeat history. Especially not in front of people that I knew much better than the last group I froze in front of. 

After a few months, it faded from my mind. I was faced with more pressing issues, such as the first semester of my senior year, having to apply to colleges and whatnot. Still without a stage-worthy talent (note: not talentless. I’m awesome (see first parenthesis)), I was approached again. This time, it was more urgent. They were actively recruiting and would have interviews for applicants soon. I kept asking around for something to do, and kept coming back with nothing. I still believe that a part of me didn’t want to perform. Regardless, I applied anyway, and despite not having an act, my friend Gus accepted my invitation to be my sidekick. I waited to fill out the application until I couldn’t wait any longer. That’s when inspiration struck. I had seen a TikTok clip of an America’s Got Talent act of “fake magic,” and thought, “Why not?” During my interview, I was asked to clarify what I meant by fake magic, and I showed the interviewers the clip. They loved it and chose me. 

Throughout the process, I shed what little I had holding me back. I was hanging out with people who, while awesome, I wouldn’t have spent time with otherwise. From all the dance practices, to the ten of us rarely ever rehearsing together, to filming the intro video, to raising money, to making catwalk costumes, to not having a finished act until a few days before the show night, it was a blast! Overall, Amazing Ace was one of the most fun things I’ve gotten to do at LM. 

All this to say that everyone out there should try new things and not let past fears hold them back. Make good friends; they will be the support system upon which you can build yourself up.  All I can hope is that I was that support for others, be it my friends or  an underclassman who I might not remember in a year. I wish everyone the best of luck in their future endeavors, whether at LM or beyond.

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