Betsy Believes, Duff Diaries

Anxiety v The Universe: Returning to the stage and facing my fears

With all that I’ve learned in the recent months, I’ve come to realise that anything you have suppressed will inevitably resurface in the form of an opportunity or an obstacle, that forces you make a decision: shall I address this, or suppress it again?

This is what has happened to me.

I was a solo artist on the live music circuit for some 5 years, from when I was just sixteen. I have a habit of just falling into situations rather than doing any forward planning, and this was no exception. I got playing on the Apple music software Garageband as a teen, the parents got wind of it, and asked me to help their friend out by recording a rendition of one of their songs (to promote their material in a fresh light or something). Out of a very small selection of female singers, my voice caught this friend’s attention, and they implored me to get on the stage.

I was not OK with this.

But my parents, supportive and creative souls that they are, twisted my arm. I wouldn’t say they were pushy, but they did see this as a career opportunity. To be fair, any parents that see live music as a career opportunity are awesomely cool parents in my books.

The thought of performing on my own in front of people made me and the toilet get much better acquainted. Performing in groups was not so big a deal, but being out there with no back-up was just a horrendous, stomach-wrenching prospect. “I’ll die out there, I tell you, I’ll die!”

Nevertheless, after a bit of kicking and screaming, I found myself on a ‘stage’ (a bit of space in a busy pub), playing my little keyboard and singing some obscure songs. And it went… well, nay, very well, to my surprise!

Fast-forward 4 years and I was on my 200th gig, having played at the Troubador Club and Amnesty International Headquarters in London, been selected out of 37,000 applicants to be one of 40 artists attending the BBC Intro Musician’s Masterclass of 2011, getting airplay, writing song after song, and being spotted by Air Management. I was on a roll.

239242_origPhoto credit: Arceight Photography

But then I burnt out. Badly. Not physically. Mentally. Downing the booze to cope with the angst of putting myself out there over and over, falling out with my parents for ‘making me’ do all this, starting and ending one intimate relationship after the other to make myself feel worthy.

I was working my way towards a meltdown. My Anxiety bubbled up under the rubble of hedonism and shame.

All of this, because, I think, my Ego was being far FAR too critical. Aggressively so. Any slight slip of key and the gig was never to be spoken of again. Any negative comments online and I was a failure, or an ugly monster of a human if appearance-related. And instead of getting easier with experience, self-loathing, eating disorders and far too much alcohol made the stakes far harder to deal with.

I was my own worst critic.

So, after landing a full-time job in corporate events and meeting my soulmate and husband, it seemed only right to put all this shit to bed. No more songwriting. No more singing. And definitely no more gigging.

Life had settled a bit for 22-year-old me. It all went a bit quiet. A bit chill. But then I got depressed. Perfect.

Why? Well, my Ego was still running the show, and having given up my hopes for a job in the music industry for one in an office, my Ego was never going to hold back. As far as the Ego was concerned, I had given up. And giving up was a big fat epic FAIL.

(Note: office life does not equal ‘giving up’, it’s friggin’ ace if you play your cards right. Promise.)

But, and as you’ll learn from my blog How Spirituality is Saving Me, I made some sensible calls (quite literally by calling the GP). I started to re-assess what I deemed ‘failure’ and realised over a course of a few years that, actually, my life, considering I’m still only 25, has been a whopping success. To have realised this, and to have used spiritual practice to make myself better, is a triumph in itself, if I say so myself! Thanks, me- I mean Universe!

Since all of this exploration, the Universe AKA God has been dropping little breadcrumbs and signs to help me address things I would have otherwise dumped at the bottom of my subconscious out of that irrational fear of failure. Outing these memories has helped me appreciate the story I have created for myself and thus re-write it for the better. So I’ve covered the alcohol thing, the relationships thing, the parents thing, the office life thing… alls good in them hoods.

However, one thing I have neglected/refused to acknowledge is the fact that I had something there with my music, my gigging… people were noticing so it can’t have been a non-event in my life, right? But I just shoved it in some box which I could have sealed for all eternity given half the chance (although my Dad documented literally everything so it would never be a secret).

The thing is, I realise now, is that it wasn’t as simple as me just not wanting to gig again. I knew this deep down, because every time someone performed, be it in music or acting or anything to an audience, my Soul yearned to be up there too. My Soul has a lust for being loud. My Soul wants to sing and speak and shout from the rooftops. I knew this when I got envious of other musicians, when I got into my flow after a few songs on stage. When someone gave me good feedback. My warrior-courage was there all along, albeit buried under the cries of my Ego.

But I was so focused on the anticipation, the stage fright, the Anxiety, the Ego, that I couldn’t see past the pain these things caused me.

That is, until just this week.

After having got a great spiritual hit from delivering a presentation on the rise of the Sacred Feminine at work, I awoke something in me and the Universe wanted me to know about it. The message came quite literally, and very out of the blue.

A promoter asked if I would support a touring act at the Marrs Bar, Worcester on 2 March. I was just eating a baguette with the hubby in town when it happened. I was floored. I haven’t been associated with gigging for 3 years now.

My Ego leapt out from within and yelled, “NOPE, no you F’ing don’t”. Understandably, because this was the venue with a big stage, the venue for musos, the venue where I had the most severe Anxiety attacks.

But the difference between now and 3 years ago is that I now know my Ego’s voice from that of my Soul.

I listened to my Soul this time. And got a big fat “YES”.

It’s been a few days since I signed up to gigging again and I have been battling it out quite intensely with my Ego. I’ve had dreams of internet trolls attacking my music profile. I’ve practiced songs I play pretty much every week and fluffed it because of the incessant moaning in my head.

But conversely, I am in deep with my Soul at the moment. The warrior in me is pleading me to get back out there. Not for the exposure. Not for a career. Not even for the music. But for myself. This is for my Anxiety. This is for my wellbeing. This is for my spirituality and the fire in my belly. This is all. For. Me.

And to bring this back to my opening para, I believe the Universe is taking me, one step at a time, through all the stories and preconceptions I have of myself, so that I can look at them through the lens of my Soul as opposed to my Ego, and realise the potential of the light that shines within me. Maybe.

Or I’m a sadist.

We shall see.

More on this as it develops.

Peace, love and happy soul searching. x

2 thoughts on “Anxiety v The Universe: Returning to the stage and facing my fears”

  1. What a truly inspirational blog, I have been reading some great stories and I do believe that God is at work maybe not everyone believes it but I do and much like you I am in a war with myself. You should be proud of yourself and never let anyone tell you different. Good luck with the future whatever journey you take.


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