“Are you nervous, Mama?” La Chica asked me about my gig tomorrow.
See, I picked up the drums in late spring of last year. I’ve wanted to play since I was a little kid. I joined a rock band 14 weeks ago. Our first gig is tomorrow.
“Yes, yes I am very nervous,” I replied. “Were you nervous or scared when you had your first school orchestra performance on stage?”
“No. I wasn’t nervous or scared. I was excited. Because I couldn’t really see anyone in the audience. But I wasn’t looking at them while I played. I was concentrating hard on what I was playing. I was so excited to finally get on stage and show everyone what I learned and practiced so hard for,” she said.
“Were you afraid you were going to mess up?” I asked.
“No. If I messed up I bet no one would even notice.” she said.
So I have told all of my friends to come see me tomorrow because I figured it would keep me honest if I told enough people; this way I couldn’t back out or do this half-assed. The problem however, is that I have a horrible case of stage fright. I hate being the center of attention. I literally sweat bullets and choke. Which then makes me more anxious. In fact, even during band practice I get nervous and mess up despite being able to play just fine at home alone.
Everyone’s told me there’s a 100% chance of messing up tomorrow. That it’s part of the deal. That I just need to keep playing and have fun. I understand, and I fully intend on having fun. Because even with my nerves, it’s not about tomorrow.
Even though I want to do well tomorrow, and I’ve worked my ass off for this, it doesn’t really matter to me how tomorrow goes. For me, it’s about the process of the past 14 weeks. It’s about the decision to join this band despite my fears and inexperience. It’s about the growth and hard work I’ve thrown into this every day for 14 weeks. It’s about the growth I’ve experienced both as a person and a musician. It’s about doing hard things. It’s about being scared and brave at the same time. It’s about not giving up. It’s about having fun. And I’ve had so much fun already.
I have discovered there is something so sublime about playing with other people. I’ve discovered my children have noticed I practice for hours, and that they realize practice makes better. I’ve discovered there’s something quite satisfying in doing hard things. I’ve discovered that at 41, I can still be pretty cool. I have remembered that at my ripe old age, nothing I do on stage tomorrow will ever compare to my foolish antics of my youth so I’m already a winner.
So tomorrow won’t be a debut as much as a celebration of doing hard things that scare me. Rock on, my friends! “It’s only rock ‘n roll, but I like it.”-Rolling Stones