Y’all i did something this past month that has scared the living shit out me for decades …
i know, i know. You’re probably saying, But Brandi, you’re a performer? And trust, you are not alone in asking/thinking that. It’s everyone — and i mean EVERYONE’S (even my parent’s) initial reaction.
My only answer to that question is, it’s different. WAAAAAY different in fact.
As a drag queen (and really a performer of any kind) there are so many other layers to you onstage: makeup, wig, music, somatic movement. And any nervousness and fear i feel (and i sure as shit get nervous before any performance) i can work through somatically. Meaning that nervous energy and fear fuels my performance and all that fear i’m feeling hides behind the movement of my body and the music.
When you’re onstage speaking, there is nothing to hide behind. There is nothing to mask your nerves. It’s just you, your voice, and the audience. THAT’S IT. And it’s this rawness, this nakedness, this vulnerability that puts the fear of god in me anytime i think about having to talk in front of people. My voice shakes, i psych myself out, and i just feel like giving up and letting fear win.
And it was all those fears i wanted to slay when i signed up for the 4-week Storytelling class at Dallas Comedy House.
The 1st week we talked about finding our story. No biggie, a bit easy because finding stories and writing them is basically how i make my living. Fear + Panic level = 0.
The 2nd week the nerves amped up a bit when we had to diagram our chosen story in front of the class — which meant standing up and speaking in front of the class. Fear + Panic level = 3. i survived (barely).
The 3rd week all hell broke loose — both in class in and in my life. The seven days between the second week of class and the third were soooo busy. i had a heavy writing workload with deadlines all that week. i knew something had to give and the first thing to go (that always seems to go) were my personal goals aka writing and rehearsing my story for our week 3 presentation in front of the class. Because i was and felt sooo unprepared, i was 2nd to last to go (the teacher literally had to call my name for me to go up and tell my story), and i fucking BOMBED IT. Like broke down failure — the kind of failure that i had not experienced in a long long time. Fear + Panic level = !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Needless to say, i was devastated. That whole evening and the next day i was in a funk. i was beating myself up mentally saying all kinds of things to myself in a voice i hadn’t heard as loudly and as clearly in a long time: Don’t show up for the last class. Email your teacher and tell him you’re not going to continue. Or, Go to class but pull yourself up from the showcase.
And i honestly considered doing all of the above.
But then somewhere along the way, the Brandi that i know showed up.
Like week 3, i had a million things to do the week of our final class but i knew the thing that really mattered — that was most essential and was going to have the most impact in my life and career was this story and this class. So i put all my work aside for one day and spent 8 hours on Monday, April 23rd working on my story and through my resistance — hating every minute of it — but i got the story i wanted to tell written.
And immediately i felt better. My inner hater’s voice got a little quieter and the wildfire of fear i had raging inside me turned into a more manageable bonfire.
The next day, i edited my story and read it to my partner. i recorded myself reading it and listened to it throughout the day.
On Wednesday the morning before our 4th and final class, before i even got out of bed, i laid there and told myself my story mentally. i went downstairs, made my coffee, and told my story out loud to my refrigerator. And at 8:30pm, i stood up and told my story to the class and i fucking NAILED IT!
The moment i stepped off our classroom “stage” i was so proud of myself for not giving up, not giving into my fear, or letting my fear stop me. And at that moment the paralyzing fear i had been feeling for pretty much decades, left my body.
Sure i felt a little nervous the day of but it was the kind of fear and nervousness that i know, that i’m used to, that i’m comfortable with. It was the same nervous feeling i get right before i go onstage to perform at any given drag show.
What was uncomfortable became manageable and familiar once the initial shock of that first step (presenting my story to the class) was over. And because i believe you have to come for fear from all different angles to truly slay it, i’m going to do something now that’s way out of my comfort zone — i’m going to share the audio recording of me BOMBING (and breaking down in the middle of) the telling of my story in class three.
i’m sharing this oh-so-embarrassing failure with you because i want you to know that i’m not perfect (despite how much i want to be)— none of us are. And i need you to know that no matter how far along we think we are in one area of our lives, no matter how put together someone’s life appears to be on social media, no matter how sickening someone is as a drag queen onstage, they/we/us are still battling all inner demons, resistance, and fear. **
Fear doesn’t have any boundaries except the ones WE put up.
My hope is that by sharing my most recent failure with you, it will inspire you to choose differently when you’re standing face to face with fear than you ever have before. That you will choose to meet your fear head-on and knock it out before it starts to take root inside you.
But i’m also going to share with you the video of my final performance because i also want you to know and see what happens when we believe we can and then we do it. The 10 days between week 3 and my performance in this video were full of so much mental and internal shifting, lessons learned, and support. And next week, i’m going to break it all down and share with you exactly what i did that helped me go from there to here. Plus i’m going to throw in some of the biggest lessons i learned through this whole uncomfortable experience.
Until then, i want you to know that whatever it is you are struggling with, whatever “thing” that you’ve been most resistant and most hesitate to do — that’s the place you to go. And know that i am right there with you. This past month has shown me what is possible. But it’s not just my truth — it’s yours too.
Mucho love, light, and fear slaying your way this week!
**Well, my intentions were good … i had planned on sharing the audio but when i went to upload it i realized i deleted it 🙁 . i don’t know when that happened, but it did. And i’m really disappointed because i wanted to share it with you so badly 🙁 . Please forgive me — but trust when i say it was BAAAAAAD.
P.S. i’m sharing more of this story (as well as pictures from the play — and of Miss B) on my Instagram. Check it out and follow!