Monday, November 14, 2011

November Blog #14: "Ey, Missie---Play Us Some Gee 'tar!"

November 14, 2011 Prompt:  “Have you faced fears and overcome them?”

What is fear when broken down to its basic root but ultimately the fear of eradication?  What else do we have to fear? Fear itself?  I’m afraid of dying, I guess, but we all don’t really like that much.  This is the most basic level of fear, perhaps; I think it is innate in everyone.  With my other fears, I can see logically the reasoning behind them being formed.  I was bitten in the face by a dog when I was around 5 or 6, so I have a fear of being mauled and eaten alive by something.  Before giving birth, there was always the fear of labor.  These aren't fears that consumed me day after day, though.  I still have owned many dogs in my lifetime, and I don't sit up at night fretting over my inevitable death.  I also chose to get pregnant and had a natural child birth.  So is fear itself the real fear?  I think so.  If I had to think of the most consuming fear of my lifetime, I suppose I would have to categorize it as some sort of a social anxiety disorder.  What is it un-categorized?  Maybe, the fear of people in numbers.  Performing, speaking, presenting to a group of people mostly.

I have always been afraid of public speaking or social things or situations, I suppose.  I guess my public speaking class in college was one of my biggest “fears” which in retrospect seems quite silly because, a.) what a small thing to be so afraid of in life and b.) I rocked that shit. Haha.  But I did seriously put it off until my last semester because I didn’t want to deal with it.  I have since then started to play the guitar and after learning to do so, started performing in front of small groups of people.  This has pushed me a long way through this “fear” of public performance.  

I used to be really nervous when the “spot light” was on me, I still have some issues with it.  I enjoy being social and conversing freely; I just have never been one of those people that are super comfortable with all eyes on them.  I am a social moth, I say, and enjoy hanging out with people, but dealing with depression at times for the majority of my life, I don’t know if people ever realized how much of a “performance” it kind of was just to simply interact at times.  I suppose this stems from all of the negative and positive negative attention I got as a young girl.  I had a weight problem pretty much my entire life so of course I became self conscious, it’s kind of hard not to in the world.  This begot nervous conditions, which begot stress, which begot basically a fear I guess.  I’ve also spent my time with disorders.  I have just always seemed to have issues with pent up emotion and a fear of interaction---sounds so lame, but I guess I could have probably been diagnosed with some social anxiety disorder of sorts at a time in my life.  This was all in its height during high school and college; the entire time was a process of me coping and overcoming the things I ended up with on the table.  We all have our different dishes to eat.  I’ve been chewing on mine for awhile now.   I about got ‘er down, though.  

I don’t want to give the impression I’m an easily shaken vulnerable little girl; through my strife I have grown into a strong and determined woman in my own right.  I am merely painting the picture of the past for you, the place I came from.  Life is a process.  I’m working on it.  I don't want to give the impression that I am "tough as nails" either.  I am constantly trying to find a balance between vulnerability and strength. 

Everyone has problems, and I have a slew of emotional issues and memories and hang ups and complexes and blab la bla, but the point is I never received any professional help for my problems.  I feel that, even with my personal problems, I still have been very blessed in life.  Like most people with problems, I never went to therapy.  Hell, I never went to talk to the counselor at the school or anything ever.  I did, however, bond myself to wonderful people when I found them.  I’ve had excellent social help from a good base of great people.  My circle of friends is great, and they’ve accelerated me through my journey more than they will ever know.  

When I started to play the guitar I was excited, because I could just sit around and play for fun.  My buddies would come over and we would drink and hang out and I started playing just for us to have a good time.  This is how I learned to play the guitar.  These were some of the best times of my life.  I was only in my mid twenties, pre marriage pre baby.  Good times.  

My one buddy would always pressure me to play the guitar; he just loved it so much.  Everything about this guy was music and good times.  It was written across his face.  It was caught in the teeth of his smile.  He would get on me so bad to “play some geetar” and when I felt up to it I’d get out my old guitar and mess around with what I could.  He always kind of made me feel funny when he begged me to play.  Sometimes, I would just "not feel like it" and I can't say how much I wish now I would have done it every time he asked me.  What was my problem?  I just didn't understand how he enjoyed it so much.    

I took for granted that someone was actually wholeheartedly enjoying what I was doing too while I was doing it.  My buddy embarrassed me in a way when he would get on me so bad to play.  He thought I was so good, and deep down I felt like a fake.  It was probably just because I knew I was no where as good as his excitement level suggested.  I don't know why I couldn't take as much pride as he did in me and to this day I am thankful I had him to point it out.

We mostly would have sing alongs.  These sing alongs were the best.  During this time, I was able to teach myself some guitar and overcome some social awkwardness while “performing”.  Eventually, at a wonderful local bar that is no longer open, when my musician friends were performing with their band they had me play a song or two.  It was crazy.  During those drunken jam sessions, I never imagined I would ever be in a bar playing in front of people.  It was fun.  It was one of the smallest one room bars you'd ever seen, but it was still a "live" performance.   

I have since then played a handful of times when "the band" was playing somewhere.  I have been given a set myself to play a time or two which was amazing.  My friends also actually all chipped in to buy me a new guitar in 2009!  I started putting up videos on YouTube which is mildly scary if you think about it, but I was able to say, Oh, what the hell!  Friends of mine this year asked me to perform the music for their wedding ceremony.  I have come a long way from my nervous strumming and chirping in the beginning.

So I have become more comfortable with this performance thing.  I’m at the very least becoming more comfortable with being in front of people, and I think that is all I had to get over.  I am learning to accept and embrace the fact that people want me to play.  It’s the pressure of being in the spot light that unnerves me, but after I get relaxed, I can be myself and enjoy it.  It has been a wonderful way for me to work through my issues with public performance anxiety.  I couldn’t sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl or anything without having my guts in a twist and possibly throwing up beforehand, mind you, but I’m getting more at ease with myself anyway.  

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