Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stage Fright

Last night I had my first tournament tennis match.  I got the courts early and watched a couple other matches and then met up with my doubles partner and started practicing.  Practicing went well.  I felt like my partner was hitting the ball relatively hard and I was having no problem returning the ball hard and fast back to him.  I also got a decent amount of good serves in.  I was smiling and having fun on the court.  I was ready to go.  Come match time, we get out on the court to start and I am like a deer in head lights.  I was so nervous half the time I was barely moving and just watching the ball zoom by me.  Sort like an out of body experience.  This has been the case almost every match I've played in, with the exception of the time we played against one of the worst teams in the league (I guess I didn't feel that threatened that day).  I felt kind of petrified and rather than do the wrong thing, I didn't really do much at all.  I was a terrible doubles partner.  We lost 1 to 9.  It was pretty awful. 
On the way home I replayed things in my head.  I really feel like I have a performance anxiety problem when it comes to situations like last night.  About 10 people were watching our match and then there was my partner and our opposing team as well.  I felt a lot of pressure in general from the match, but also because it was a tournament match and the team was counting on us (me).  I was terrified to screw up and hated everyone watching me.  It was kind of debilitating.
I also have a fear of public speaking.  I never liked giving presentations in school or college.  They make me very nervous- like sweaty nervous.  Last year I had to give a presentation for work at our all employee's conference to about 150 people and I HATED it.  The only thing that saved me was that I was up on the stage with a co-worker who did most of the talking.  Finally after 10 minutes or so I started to get a tiny bit more comfortable and jumped in with some information, but mainly I just stood there, again like a deer in head lights.
I'm part of a special team at work.  It's not part of my regular job, but I choose to be on the team because it's a good opportunity to get out of the office and work in a much different capacity for our organization than what I do for my primary job.  The team I'm on is huge on training.  We get to attend different kinds of training ourselves and we also often provide training and presentations on what our team does.  Last week I was out with the team to give a presentation to middle school and high school students and when our team leader asked if I wanted to speak/present, I opted out, not wanting to have to speak by myself in front of a large group.  We have international travel opportunities that I could go on, but the prerequisite is going through an instructor course that involves instruction exercises, which terrifies me.  I am dying to travel internationally, but I would also be afraid to be an instructor and have to speak to large groups, so I have avoided getting certified as an instructor and miss out on all these potentially cool international trips because of it. 
I'm really need to try and get over this anxiety.  Maybe do toastmasters or just make myself go to the instructor course and face my fear.  I'm not sure how to get over the tennis anxiety.  At this point the season may be over (depending on whether my team wins or loses the next match), so it may be a non-issue.  I just see a pattern of myself getting really nervous in situations where I'm center of attention.  It's weird, because I'm not even a really shy person.  I'm usually pretty friendly and outgoing and in many situations it's tough to shut me up.  But put me on display or in front of a large group and it gets me worked up! 
Do you have problems with stage fright/anxiety in these kinds of situations?  How do you/did you deal with it?  Help!


Anonymous said...

Yikes! I always feel better the more prepared I am, like when public speaking or that time I had to dance in front of everyone in a pageant (last one ever!), but that's not really doable when you're playing a game. I mean, how prepared can you be? I guess all you can do is ignore everyone who is watching you or maybe pretend like they're not paying attention (?).

Anonymous said...

In college, my friend Cathy was so afraid of public speaking that she dropped her mandatory public speaking class 3 or 4 times before finally taking it as a senior. I'd call her fear a phobia. She sweats, cries, runs out of the room in a panic, etc. Anyway, after college she decided she really wanted to overcome her fear in order to excel in her career. She joined toastmasters and it did wonders for her. She even spoke at Jen Murphy's wedding in front of over 100 people. I went to a few of her toastmaster meetings for support. I think it's a great organization. You should try it! Good luck, Britt. It's worth it to travel! -Jen T. p.s. do I have to have a blog in order to have a name and face to leave comments?

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