Figuring Out the Script

by Emily Jasper on May 25, 2010

Being out of practice has changed my own comfort level. When I step up, the adrenalin rushes through me so quickly, my body is shaking violently. I can’t channel her as easily anymore, and I don’t know if she’ll show up this time. What if it’s just me?

For years I was a pretty committed performer. I was always comfortable on a stage, pulling energy from the audience that I would manifest into a big voice and dance movement. I used to think of it as my alter-ego taking over, and sometimes I wouldn’t even remember the performance. It was if I had stepped back for her.

I can’t even get up to a karaoke machine now without having a minor panic attack.

Oddly enough, I don’t think my alter has left me. She just doesn’t know what to do anymore. It seems that my performances have moved from the stage to the office, and she’s still figuring it out.

I used to feel so powerful on a stage, and really, I didn’t even need a stage. I would just perform. If I felt it, I would sing or dance in the street, at school, or in a restaurant. Many times I would embarrass my friends, but I never cared. Somehow, along the way, caring about what others thought began to take over.

So I had to refocus where I performed. Like any other vicious cycle, putting my stage energy into an office setting meant I began to care more and more what people thought. I couldn’t express myself, but instead I had to take on different roles while I was still learning the script.

You’ve all been there. You step into a meeting, say something, and then all hell breaks loose. At the time, you may have no idea what it was you said (or how you said it), but it was enough that there’s major damage control going on. You learn for next time, but this incident is just one scene of many for which you have no pages.

I use my alter to direct myself, playing roles in the office. If you hear me when I’m “on” at work, I have a totally different voice. My tone drops, I monitor how much passion I let in, and I try to find the balance between seriousness and humor. But I still end up with stage jitters.

I am proud to have an alter who is still on her toes. My heart rate may not appreciate it, but I know that getting too comfortable often makes you complacent. I may be a little rusty pulling energy from an audience as I sing “All That Jazz,” but I’m getting the hang of presenting to executives.

How do you find your performing self in the workplace? Do you feel you need to perform? What are your experiences learning a workplace script?

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