Looking down the calendar to charity concert Project Cypher IV on May 20, butterflies are already starting to form in my stomach. This marks the 3rd consecutive year I’ll serve as the co-host. Cypher is a charity concert created by hip-hop artist and philanthropist Ryan Evans aka HighTyde. All proceeds from the annual show are donated to a family with a special needs child. When Ryan offered me the role prior to Cypher 2 in 2015 I was both deeply honored and genuinely terrified. My writing career has allowed me to attend some incredible public events. Being at those functions, however, doesn’t require everyone else in attendance to stare at me all at once. This is what I’ve agreed to contend with each time I host Cypher. Why is this an issue?
I have terrible, sometimes debilitating stage fright.
When I was a child my mother entered me into a modeling showcase. Being a preppy child in an inner city school system, I was already self-conscience about my appearance. I was teased. I was called names. I was put on the spot. Unwanted attention was drawn to me.
After several rehearsals for the showcase the night finally arrived. It was time to reveal what we’d learned and look nice doing it. As I stood in a single file line waiting for my name to be called my stomach began to feel as though I had the flu. As the line got shorter my stomach got worse, and I was sweating profusely. When I heard my name I took one trembled step into view and froze.
People were smiling and clapping. Cameras were flashing. They were even saying things to me but I couldn’t hear them. All the sound was muted. It was like putty was stuffed in my ears. After an agonizing minute or so I turned and ran back to the dressing room area. I never came back out.
I’ve stood on plenty stages since then. Most were for short periods of time, and one brief appearance. Before each of them I was that little boy again. Ryan asked me to repeatedly place myself in that situation for several hours.
Yet, the more I thought about the reason I’d be on stage, the more I was willing to endure the symptoms that come with my stage fright. These children and the families Project Cypher benefits deal with daily circumstance far worse than my momentary sour stomach and nervous sweat. Having people stare at me is not life-threatening. Garnering attention won’t require a run of medical expenses, trips to the pharmacy, or countless hours at the mercy of medical professionals who, despite their education and training, don’t have all the answers.
I have stage fright. It flares up right before I go on to host Project Cypher. Why is this an issue? It’s not. I’m willing to get over my fear and be strong for the benefit of others.
Be sure to check out each edition of my weekly column “Shining Example”, you can also read a number of interviews and features written By Mr. Joe Walker.
That’s the end for now. I sincerely thank you for reading my blog!
I write “good”,
Mr. Joe Walker