An insightful piece about giving a reading and (of course) other things. I recognize what Lupita Nyong’o calls “the seduction of inadequacy” — boy, do I ever. There’s a big payoff for feeling unworthy: you don’t have to try, don’t have to risk, don’t have to make mistakes. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only writer who sometimes falls for the seduction!
By Katrina Otuonye
I took part in a reading with The Porch Writers’ Collective in Nashville last week, and I read for about 10 minutes from a collection of nonfiction I’m working on. I think it went well, even though I was a little nervous, though a bit less than usual. Practice does actually make perfect. But the first couple paragraphs, getting over the dry mouth, mentally smoothing over the shakiness in my voice, my little animal brain kicked in, the one that always says, “What are you doing?”
The voice comes from a little preppy version of me, in a pleated skirt and my hair up, in a bow. She sits cross-legged on my shoulder, filing her nails. I’ve been meditating and going to therapy to help with my anxiety and latent feelings of not-good-enough-ness that have followed me around for nearly 20 years now (thanks, middle school). Before…
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3 thoughts on “Anxiety and Public Reading”
Now I have a name of what came over me on the stage of The Moth – “the seduction of inadequacy” – thank you, Susanna!
But you persevered and you did it! 🙂 This made me think (not for the first time) about how I stopped singing entirely because another kid in the junior choir told me I always sang off-key. No one had ever said this to me before. This kid and I did not like each other. But I was sure she was right and that if I kept singing I was going to find out for sure that I couldn’t sing. It was 20 years before I started singing again, in the year before I left D.C.
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And how wonderful that you now understand that it is a great thing to sing, no matter the key! Sharing with our Bellingham writing-reading group. 🙂