One of the best things I learned in acting class was how to better understand what we perceive as stage fright. Nervous energy is useful, provided we understand what it’s trying to convey.
Mine feels like butterflies in my chest. When I’m not allowing myself to gain control in that moment, I can break down or behave in a way that goes against my intentions.
The big mistake is labeling it as unwelcome or bad. That’s a surefire way to allow it to become something worse than it is. To create upset about whether or not it should be occurring is not the way. It has arrived. Here it is. What do you do with it?
It’s time to acknowledge it as a signal that something important is happening. Not immediately dangerous, not threatening, but important somehow. You have to be open to the possibility that it's good! It means the whole body cares. It’s energy that must be used. In an acting context, find a reason why the character would be holding this energy too. Make it part of the work rather than an impediment.
I’m nerding out over the prework for my coding bootcamp. I felt it in my chest. I read a paragraph, didn’t understand it. I read a couple more and it started to make sense. Rounding back to the first one to see if it all makes more sense now. Good. Next up, an example. I tab over to a Replit to write out the code. First, second, third, fourth times I type in the examples, I get the wrong response. I scour the work for the typos. It’s humbling.
Finally, I get it right. This isn't even problem solving. The work is simply: understand and repeat the work that’s laid out. These baby steps feel big enough that it was thrilling to learn something new today. I felt it in my chest. It feels like a small glimpse into what’s becoming newly possible. I remember times when this feeling in a learning context would crush me. It's liberating to understand it as energy to channel responsibly.
The more I learn, the less I’m going to experience it viscerally. I’m savoring these moments while I can.