My 15-year-old did something brave last week. She auditioned for the school play, Into the Woods. I stopped my chores and listened to her while she practiced at home. My ears didn’t hurt. In fact, it was enjoyable. I heard potential. Maybe she was even good?

I coached her as best as I knew how and heard myself telling her things I wish I would have done when I was her age—things I’m trying to do now in my writing journey when self-doubt discourages me.

Am I really a good writer? Even though I’ve received affirmation, sometimes I allow myself to live in the fear that I’m not good enough to even try. I want to help my daughter escape this kind of mind-gripping anxiety by speaking life-giving words to her—like blowing air back into a balloon deflated by self-defeat.

“Don’t let your nerves take over your voice. You sound good—believe it. Sing with confidence. Don’t be shy to act out the part in the play—that’s what the judges want to see. Don’t worry yourself sick and let it ruin your experience. Enjoy the audition. Have fun. If you mess up, laugh at yourself. Move on. Everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is nervous. Pretend like you’re singing at home. Don’t worry for 2 days over 2 minutes of your life you could enjoy if you allowed your mind to let you.”

Self-doubt looks like singing to the ground with your hair covering your face. It cowers and slumps. Rattles your voice. Shakes your hands. Dries up your mouth. Erases the words you know. Cries tears of rejection.

I was happy and a bit surprised when Madeline told me she wanted me to come to her audition and support her.

She filled out the paperwork and requested to go first so she wouldn’t miss soccer practice. 

She hesitated when they called her name, “I might chicken out. Maybe I should go second. Mom, I think I’m going to cry.”

“You can do it, Madeline. Go first. It’s ok. Take a deep breath in. Have fun.”

The drama teacher introduced her, “Ok everyone, Madeline is going first and she’s nervous.”

My heart pounded as I remembered the times I gave myself that same nervous label and ended up acting the part. Times when I overshared my anxiety. Maybe then, people would know not to expect anything great from me. I gave myself permission not to disappoint others by lowering their expectations.

Are you nervous? Here are 10 ways to not let your nerves get the best of you when you're anxious about an important opportunity. #anxiety #nervous #facingfear

She introduced herself and then started to sing. I knew she was nervous but her nerves didn’t affect her pitch.

Afterward, the judges said positive things. 

“I could hear vibrato in your voice. We could work to bring it out.” 

“You knew you couldn’t hit that high note and sang lower and you were still in tune, good job.” 

“You have a good voice and a good ear for music.”

I watched the rest of the teens take their position in front of the judges. I smiled at them as they took a nervous breath in before the first note. These brave kids wiped tears from their eyes as they received constructive criticism. Some didn’t pick the right song or have confidence in their gift. 

I knew with a little training and coaching—their voices could become stronger than their nerves.

I’m learning to become a better writer by sharing in critique groups, and meeting with agents and editors. It feels like a singing audition. What if I sing out of tune? What if I think I’m good but I’m really terrible? What if they reject me? 

I’m always glad after I’ve taken a risk and received valuable feedback. Constructive criticism helps us hone our craft.

The fact we need training doesn’t mean we don’t have a gift God can use. Click To Tweet

I wonder how often we give up too soon because we think if we have a calling we shouldn’t need any help?

God created us to need each other as iron sharpens iron.

My seventh-grade son will be playing with the High School Marching Band in Disneyland. He practices after school every day so the older students can mentor him. 

My daughter got the part of Jack’s mom. Yay! She’ll rehearse every day after school.

The girl’s I watched whose voices hid underneath the crackling of confidence, wiped tears from their eyes and picked up their bags before leaving the room. I wanted to hug them because I know what it feels like to have my nerves take over. They thought they failed, but they didn’t. They were courageous. By standing in front of those judges they faced fear. I wanted to tell them that their voice didn’t fail them, their gift didn’t fail them, their nerves did. I wanted to tell them not to let this experience prevent them from showing up again. 

I sent the first 10 pages of my manuscript for a critique appointment at a writing conference. It’s not easy to press send when I know my best probably still needs some work. But when my appointment comes, I hope to follow my own advice and allow my nervous energy to strengthen my confidence instead of depleting it.

It’s normal to get nervous. It’s part of the fight or flight response that produces extra adrenaline in case we need to protect ourselves from danger. 

But when we’re nervous because we’re doing something that will help us grow as a person, then we can try to harness that nervous energy to help us instead of hinder us.

I believe the more we step into the fears that help us grow, the more we’ll learn how to utilize our nerves so they don’t get the best of us

10 ways not to let nerves get the best of you

1. Be prepared and practice!

2. Be vulnerable and let others help you.

3. Take action and sign up for that interview, appointment, critique, or audition!

4. Picture yourself enjoying the moment. Smile and have fun.

5. Train your thoughts and words to pave a road of self-confidence instead of self-defeat. Don’t share how nervous you are to everyone around you, but do tell a few friends you trust and ask them to pray for/with you. 

6. Remind yourself what a waste of time worry is. Have you already worried way longer than the time it will take doing what you’re worried about?

7. Tell yourself you will do your best and it will be ok. 

8. Read/Memorize these verses when your mind is overtaken by anxiety. Sign up for the free printable “Equip Your Mind to Battle Fear” below.

Say Hebrews 13:5-6 aloud as you prepare: 

Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13: 5-6 NIV

God, you will never leave me. Lord, I say with confidence, You are my helper! I will NOT be afraid. What is the worst that can happen? It’s not the end of the world if I mess up. Lord, you are for me. You are with me. Thank you for taking care of me!

I love the Amplified Version of Hebrews 13:5-6: 

“I will not in any way fail you nor give you up, nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you, nor let you down or relax my hold on you. Assuredly not!  So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say, The Lord is my Helper in time of need, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

9.

Receiving helpful feedback doesn’t mean you should stop trying, it means you should keep going!  Click To Tweet

Everybody makes mistakes. Everyone has to work hard to improve.

10. Do some breathing exercises. As my cycling instructor says, “Breathe in the good and exhale the bad.”

What helpful advice do you have to help calm nerves? I would love for you to share in the comments. If you have something you’re nervous about, leave a prayer request below. I’d love to pray for you.

Are you nervous? Here are 10 ways to not let your nerves get the best of you when you're anxious about an important opportunity. #anxiety #nervous #facingfear

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