A few years ago, I founded a band with another singer. As our first gig approached, we wanted to make a huge splash with a great show. We planned stage decor, learned far more songs than we needed, got matching outfits including knee-high boots with very high heels, and even worked up choreography for several songs! (Yeah, in high-heel boots. Brilliant.)
What expectations we had!
The night of the gig there was so much for us to plan, do, and think about, that it was completely overwhelming. It was crazy to set our expectations that high so soon. 34 new songs all in one night? Choreography with 5 other musicians who had never gigged together before, on a crowded stage? Insanity. Yes, it made me nervous.
If you are feeling nervous for an upcoming gig, what are your expectations? What kind of pressure are you putting on yourself?
If you are putting unrealistic expectations on yourself without being willing to fail in your attempt to meet them, you are creating cognitive dissonance in your own mind.
Are you expecting to get through the first performance of a new song without any mistakes? Are you expecting to hit a high note that you have only recently begun to hit in practice? Are you expecting to improvise an inspiring solo, when you only started improvising a few months ago? Are you playing guitar and singing at the same time, for the first time, and expecting both to be stellar?
You have two ways to deal with each expectation that’s making you nervous:
1) Let go of the expectation. Realize that you need to lower the bar for now. You can always renew this expectation for a later gig!
2) Cultivate detachment about the expectation, which means that even if you desire a particular outcome, you know will not be disappointed if it doesn’t happen this time.
(c) 2010 Adrienne Osborn