People are always surprised when I share with them how shy I am. Those closest to me have laughed at the notion of my getting nervous before engaging a crowd. This is probably because I give off the impression that I thrive in social settings and inherently know how to 'work a room.' But the truth of the matter is, I have always suffered from crippling stage fright and nerves when putting myself out there in new ways. I think it is for this reason that yoga teacher training was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. I mean, when you are teaching yoga, your voice is literally the only one heard for the entire class. The night before my practical (the test to determine whether all of my theoretical knowledge would translate into actually being able to teach yoga) I was so nervous that I threw up. Twice. While performing the practical portion of my final exam some of the feedback I received was to relax, remain in the moment and not let the nerves get the best of me. Easier said than done. Staying in the moment when the inner critic is hurling insults at you is a feat to be accomplished. Even in the classroom while teaching, every time I would come back from a long break I would be numb with fear about getting up in front of a group and doing my thing--and these were just kids! One would think it gets easier with time, but truly there is always this voice in the back of my head trying to convince me that I just can't do it.
A few years back I had been trying my hand at singing with my dad's band. Mostly because he swore my voice sounded like a choir of angels (it's his job to say that, he is my dad). Everything about the experience was painful. During rehearsals in his studio I would have to face the wall so no one was looking at me while I sang. I was only able to do the few gigs that I did because of liquid confidence. For about an hour before I would perform, I would consume a considerable amount of alcohol and this would enable me to get up on the stage and do what had to be done. After a handful of times, I realized the experience of all of this stress and anxiety was not worth it. So what if singing in my car, in the shower and to my babies brings me more joy than almost anything else. Too bad that when a song I love comes on and I am in sweats in the comfort of my own home, I sing at the top of my lungs. In my imagination I am on par with Beyonce in those moments. That will just have to be good enough. The pain of putting myself out there in front of an audience is too much to bare.
So naturally, this past weekend when I taught my first power yoga class EVER, and led my first Girls' Night Om event all in the same morning, I should have been a nervous wreck. Those in my inner circle were treading lightly all week, asking if I felt nervous. They fully expected me to babble on endlessly about how terrified I was, or just flat out burst into tears. Much to their surprise I did no such thing. In fact, my response was a cool, calm and collected no, not really. When they responded in disbelief given my history with performance anxiety, I was forced to really think about the reasons behind my eery calm. Was I in denial that these two huge events were happening in the same morning? Had I just gotten to the point of being so nervous that I was numb? No. Neither of these seemed right. So naturally I did what any seasoned yogi should do when faced with a self-identity crisis--I took a yoga class. At the end of class I had an epiphany. I wasn't at ease because there was something wrong with me! I was at ease because I was ready. I was not nervous because instead of being filled with, even consumed by self doubt, I was filled by Spirit confidence. You see, in the past I would use alcohol to lower my inhibitions and feelings of inadequacy. Though I still at times feel as though I do not measure up, my perspective has shifted. I have come to a place where I realize that it isn't really about me. It is about service. It is about giving peace, joy and love to the world, and mostly enabling others to find these things within themselves. I am filled with Spirit confidence because I am finally, for once in my life, doing exactly what I believe God has called me to do. Armed with that kind of knowledge, no amount of nerves or deceitful thinking can move me from my purpose. My hope is that I can help each of you encounter your own Spirit confidence too. I am so grateful to all of the ladies who joined me Saturday morning for my first Girls' Night Om event, and I am so excited for where this new adventure will take me. (Originally posted December of 2016)