When I get nervous I feel physically sick. This weight drops in my stomach, the back of my neck begins to prickle, and I feel like I want to leap out of my own skin. Sometimes I get to the point where I feel like I might start vibrating on the spot there’s so much nervous energy whirling around inside me. That’s how I feel every time I start to think about finishing my book and starting to look for literary agents. When the chance to submit to a poetry competition crosses my desk. When I ask someone to pass an opinion on my writing.
Nerves are just something that I’ve had to learn to live with.
As I’ve got older I’ve managed to reign them in a bit. The first two days of secondary school were hell mostly because of my nerves, and the way that they made me feel like I was about to puke my guts up at any second. These days I’m able to remind myself that it’s okay to be nervous, but it’s not okay to let those things get in the way of what I want to do. It doesn’t always work, but I’m great at pretending I’m confident in situations where I’m actually scared witless. Have you heard of the phrase ‘fake it till you make it?’ Well that is something of a moto for me. Fake like you know it until you do. Fake like you’re a kick-arse, no bullshit taking, cool as chips chick until I am.
I don’t know if it always comes across that way, but I try.
Writing is one of the areas in my life where I’ve learnt that they can be no room for my nerves. If they’re the thing holding me back from hitting publish then I should click that little blue button all the harder. If they’re telling me that I might not be good enough to enter that poetry competition then I should be trying to prove them wrong. If they want to freeze up at the idea I might actually finish this novel within the month then open that laptop and get writing!
If my nerves are holding me back then I’ve got to fight all the harder and go for it because I do not want to be kicking myself fifty years down the line wishing I’d taken more risks when I had the chance.
It doesn’t always work. The first time I went to judo a few months ago I froze in the doorway and almost turned around to head back to the car. That sick feeling, the prickles, I had it all and stepping into the room seemed impossible. I made myself though. It was one of the reasons I decided to take judo up. It was something I’d never done and something I knew I’d find hard to get myself to do at first. It involved new people, a new sport, a new environment. Three things that set off every alarm possible in my head. But once the first session was over and I walked out of there, I felt good about myself. I felt proud that the nerves hadn’t conquered me.
That one incident didn’t cure me. The idea of doing a grading is still enough to bring all those lovely symptoms rushing back, but I’m hoping I’ll get there in the end. The people I do judo with are lovely and supportive, and the coach is such a friendly guy that I don’t worry about looking like an idiot in front of him.
My nerves are something I battle on almost a daily basis, but I’m learning ways to push past the fear and do things that I’m finding I love.
It’s not easy. It’s downright difficult and exhausting at time.
But it’s worth it.
So very, very worth it.