Acting can be so nerve wracking for some actors, whether it’s before you perform, or even when you’re onstage. You are not alone! And hey, of course you’re nervous, your work means so much to you and it should.
Over and over again in the industry I hear the advice “try not to be nervous” or “don’t let your nerves affect you.” But how helpful is that when you’re waiting to go on stage for your Broadway opening and your heart is pounding and your hands are sweating?
Instead, what will happen if you acknowledge what’s going on in your body vs banishing it? Last week I posted about why it’s important to allow yourself to feel your emotions to the fullest. Check out that post as it relates very closely to this one – and watch this conversation from class below to hear what you CAN do. And if you’re really struggling with nerves, I’ve written about them previously as well if you’re wanting more support.
CLASS CLIP TRANSCRIPTION
Sarah: Sometimes where your nervous system starts to go, urghhhh, right, I’m like, ohhh, I’m nervous. The tendency is, okay, I’m gonna do this routine now so that I don’t have to feel like that. But instead of thinking of it like that, I also want it to be okay…this actually is fascinating, because this is coming up, similarly to what we were talking about last week after the funeral. Which is allowing whatever you’re feeling to be there.
Student: Holy shit. Okay.
Sarah: So when you feel nervous, when you feel—and sometimes you’re not gonna feel nervous, sometimes you’ll be like, okay, I’m feeling pretty released and relaxed and grounded. Great! But sometimes, especially if it’s an audition or it feels like a big opportunity, maybe the nerves kick in. So the actor’s, just human’s, instinct is, well I don’t want to feel like that, so let me do this other thing so I can not feel like that.
And then what we do is we end up trying to act on top of this other thing, and we’re telling ourselves it’s not okay to feel like that, so stop it, and then you can’t act. So when you allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, and just acknowledge it, and say, it’s okay. I’m gonna actually say, sometimes out loud, sometimes in your head, depending on where you are, right now, my stomach is fluttering. My hands are sweating. My neck is tight. And I’m not gonna go into oh I gotta do all this stuff. I’m gonna first take stock. And if you can, not name it as bad or good, but just is. It is happening. This is happening, it’s not bad. My nerves, I may even name them as…there’s atoms moving around in my body. The atoms are moving! Okay. Great. The atoms are moving. My toes are wiggling. My breath is shallow. I hear a sound outside. I’m hot. I’m sweating. I wish I wasn’t sweating. Okay, fine. But I am. I am sweating. That’s a fact, right, whatever that is.
And then you can take a breath and when you’re…undoubtedly there’s gonna be a series of events with negative self-talk, with “you can’t do this, what are you doing here?” Right, the negative self-talk of, I don’t deserve to do this. All these other people, they got, this guy, he has, why did—you know, all the stuff. Catch it. Say internally to yourself, I’m back. That’s all, that’s made up shit. You’re making stuff up, right? Take a breath, say I’m back. You can say I’m back to yourself inside seventeen times in a row if you have to. I’m back I’m back I’m back I’m back I’m back. And keep feeling whatever it is you’re feeling that’s real, that’s actually happening.