Stage Fright. We all get it sometimes. Whether it be on an actual stage, like a theater, or a virtual one, like your office conference room. You know, the rumbling in your stomach, the butterflies, the cold sweats. In take take a long time to get over your performance anxiety in the workplace.
I thought I had conquered mine in voice over and announcing. I no longer get nervous when reading on the mic in front of a group of peers, and coaches. Not during a live session with a director on the line. Not even in a 12,000 person stadium when my voice comes booming over the loudspeakers.
Recently, however, I have been reminded of how our bodies can be affected internally, even when we have seemingly conquered our fears.
You see, I suffer from ulcerative colitis. The Mayo clinic defines colitis like this.
Ulcerative colitis (UL-sur-uh-tiv koe-LIE-tis) is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. Symptoms usually develop over time, rather than suddenly.
Ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. While it has no known cure, treatment can greatly reduce signs and symptoms of the disease and bring about long-term remission.
I’ve suffered with this for about 20 years. It took a long time and visits with LOTS of specialists to get an answer, and even more to get things under control, but for the most part I did. With the help of medication, my symptoms were in remission, almost entirely.
That is, until recently.
I started to think about what might have been different to bring about this return of symptoms, with a vengeance. I can’t be sure, and that is one of the truly insidious parts of this disease, but…it may be my stage fright!
One theory about something that can exacerbate UC symptoms is nerves or anxiety. Nothing in my life has really been anxiety producing lately, except when I dug a little deeper.
You may have seen me post on social media, or on my podcast The VO Meter, talk about my large increase in my live announcing gigs. The pace has really picked up. This year, I have worked for 3 different Universities doing the public address announcing for: Wrestling, Gymnastics, Baseball, Softball, Lacrosse and Men’s and Woman’s Volleyball. Each of these sports were new for me at each respective school. Each one brought a lot of prep work, practice and excitement!
Now, after my years of doing voice over work and announcing previously, I thought my time getting “nervous” just before game time were over. After all, I don’t feel nervous. Well, maybe a little. I never was overly shaky, no stumbling, no fumbling and really, I all around Kicked Butt!
I started to think about my recent colitis flare up and thought, “Maybe it’s the new jobs”. As I said, all of these “gigs” as we call them in voice acting were new at each respective school. Could I have buried my nerves around each of these situations to the point that they were affecting me internally, even though on the outside, I was cool calm and collected? After all I was driving to new locations, sometimes stuck in traffic wondering if I would get there on time. Looking at campus maps to find the right parking lot to park in and walking directions to the venue. Using different equipment like microphones. Meeting new staff and trying to make a good impression. Yes, I was doing a good job, “on the mic” but was I secretly driving myself to illness?
Unfortunately, I probably will never know for sure. I know outwardly, I’m having a blast, still doing a good job (I think?) and learning more all the time.. I can only hope that as things become more routine, my body settles down, and I can keep doing what I love.
So, have you experienced anything similar? Have YOU conquered your Stage Fright?