I’m a singer and love to perform, but have always struggled with stage fright. Not unusual, I know. Some folks say that anxiety makes for a better performance. I couldn’t disagree more. Preparation makes for good performance; and preparation coupled with a presence that is centered, energized, empowered, and relaxed makes for the best singing and a great performance. So how does one get her proverbial butterflies to fly in formation?
One of the most incredible pianists I have worked with told me about the use of personas to overcome stage fright. I have heard similar advice, but not the suggestion of developing a persona. The advice I had heard that sounds something like this: if you want to do X, but are afraid, think of someone you admire and imagine how they would deal with the fear in that situation. Hmm…as good and interesting as that sounds, for some reason it never worked for me, not for addressing emotional challenges anyway.
The idea of creating a persona intrigued me. I really like reaching into myself, stirring up the juices of imagination, and creating. Certainly well worth a try, creating a persona for my own use would be fun. I began by asking myself about the qualities this persona should possess. What I came up with is that she should be powerful, yet vulnerable; confident, but not condescending, completely and unapologetically at home in her own skin; fearless, but not foolhardy. Most of all she should courageously lead with and share her heart. Ladies and gentlemen (drum roll), I present Angelique de la Force! Because I “gave birth” to her, she is a part of me, an abiding and intimate ally. I can step into her; I can “be” her. It’s really remarkable to me that this works. Distinguishing Angelique as somehow separate from me, when she is in reality a part of me, has given access to more of myself. Joy possesses all of Angelique’s traits, but they are somehow not as distilled or concentrated as they are in Angelique. Angelique is not burdened by some of Joy’s other qualities, qualities that are positive and useful, but qualities whose presence tamp down those that are so prominent in Angelique. On stage I am Angelique.
I wonder how many other personas I could bring to life to aid in other aspects of my life. How about you?