Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Going To Gigs & Anxiety

Although life with anxiety is never plain sailing, and there is still a long way to go to get my life where I want it to be, one of the things I am most proud of is my gig-going adventures. They are and have been just local, and are not without their challenges, but to have pushed myself to do as much as I have done, is something that I always come back to for motivation.

I think part of it is that music is a powerful motivation. I've always been a huge fan of music, it makes me feel alive! I enjoy music and dance-based films, sometimes write lyrics, and more recently I have written about it as a freelance writer. So that has pushed me where other things haven't, and perhaps the other thing is I have done all this on my own. I'm not always the best with any kind of planning and social expectations and don't really have a close social circle locally for support on these outings. I have tried and succeeded, tried and failed, tried and found things got a lot easier. It's an entirely different experience going on my own, but in some ways, it works. I can come and go as I want, don't have to think about anybody else, and have got to know quite a few people, to varying degrees, that I might not have done otherwise; people in bands, music fans, people that promote and run events locally, and people that have been very supportive of my writing.

I've been there and done it as far as tension, anxiety, and unsettled feelings go. I've been beating myself up a bit if I have gone home or missed a specific performance, fidgeted through a whole theatre show and struggled to relax, then equally done other things and felt absolutely fine. Sometimes I've also seen a band that I know for the first time in ages, and quite happily and confidently chatted to them, feeling better about doing it, than I have done all the other times I have seen them before.

But there are things I make sure I do every time I am planning to go out, so I thought I'd share a few with this post, in case they help anyone else who might need some coping mechanisms.

- Aisle Seats - if it's a theatre show these are always a must-have with me, even if I was with someone, I wouldn't want to be in the middle of a crowd, I just think it would be a bit claustrophobic. I also try and book in the sides of the theatre, sometimes the back, or maybe even the balcony, so I am a bit away from it all, and it's easier to relax.

- Try a 'practice visit' to a venue - this only really works for local venues, but I found going to something I wasn't that fussed about helped me to scope out different places, their vibe, and decide whether I would feel comfortable going to gigs there. It didn't 'matter' how long I was there for.

- Be prepared - I always make sure I have certain things with me, even if I never use them for weeks or months on end, I always feel better if I have a supply of mints, rescue remedy, tissues, water. It may seem like a simple thing, but it all counts for me.

- Don't be too early or too late - I always check timings before I go to an event, especially if I really want to see a specific act or band above all others. If it's a festival, I try and work out the time I most want to be there to get the best experience, but so I'm not trying to amuse myself hanging around too much waiting, or with nothing to do. I try and give a decent time to get ready, travel, and deal with any unsettled feelings, then go and enjoy as much as I can.

Anxiety and the way you deal with it always has its critics, but equally, people I know have said to me that I am doing things they wouldn't ever do on their own. I hope your gig-going experiences are successful ones, and if you suffer from any kind of anxiety, you've found lots of ways of dealing with whatever comes your way. I have my first gig ticket booked for 2019, and can't wait to buy more and see what happens.




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