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  • Writer's pictureAlexis Pearson

are you nervous?

As someone who works in the business of talking in front of cameras and into microphones - many times with large audiences - I get asked a lot by friends and family and people in different careers: “are you nervous?”

I always tell people the same thing: I don’t get nervous.

Of course it’s much more complicated than that. I DO get nervous, sometimes, so I suppose saying I don’t get nervous is a bit of a lie, but I do feel like I’m able to dodge that feeling more than the average person in my shoes and here’s why.

The way I see it is this: I know what I’m good at and I know what I’m not very good at. I know which things I can do rather effortlessly and I know which things are a challenge for me, even if I’m highly capable of doing them. I also know that no matter my level of skill, confidence, and passion toward whatever I’m doing, mistakes are inevitable. And more importantly, I can live with that. I can live with making a mistake as long as I make an effort to be better the next time. So what is there to be nervous about? If I know what I’m good at then I should have confidence as I approach the task of doing that thing. If I can accept and learn from mistakes then there’s no need to fear something new either.

So I don’t really consider myself someone who has a comfort zone. I have the things I’m good at. I have the things I’m not so good at. And I have the things I’ve never tried (which trust me this list will always exist). But no matter what, I have a confidence in myself to do everything I do with passion and passion always wins out over nervousness.

I once read this book about curiosity and how the human brain becomes curious about something and then stores the information it learns about that thing. In the book it talks about the three different kinds of knowledge: the things you know you know, the things you know you don’t know, and the things you don’t know you don’t know. Pretty interesting, right? I’ve learned to just apply this to the way I approach tasks in my career. In other words, there will always be things to learn and ways to improve so there’s nothing to be nervous about. What are you going to do? Spend your whole life trying to perfect at everything? Good luck. Just go try your best. I know, I know. Sounds like it should be stitched on a pillow. But just hear me out.

Nervousness does nothing for you. I consider myself a very emotional person (which I take pride in) so I do not say this lightly when I say that being nervous is a waste of emotion. It doesn’t push you to strive to be better, like emotions of anger or jealousy might, for example. It doesn’t make you sure of yourself, like pride or confidence might. It just eats away at you, sometimes to the point of not only not exceeding at the task but doing it poorly.

Now if I was reading this from a different perspective I’d probably be laughing by now (I can be cynical like that sometimes). “Oh sure just get rid of my comfort zone yeah sounds easy enough (eye roll)”. And yeah I hear you. That might be too hard for you to do and that’s fine. Just think of it this way instead: make everything your comfort zone or at the very least have the confidence in yourself to know that whether you’re in your comfort zone or not, you’re going to succeed at whatever you’ve set out to do. You’ll make mistakes, yes. Laugh it off. Or if it’s a big mistake make amends. Be better next time. And if it’s a REALLY big mistake maybe consider switching careers. Just kidding. Unless you’ve always wanted to try a new career but have been too nervous (insert winky face and evil laugh here).

The key to stepping out of your comfort zone, no matter how you approach it, boils down to confidence and how you use it. And confidence is a WAY more fun emotion to deal with than nervousness. Trust me.

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