Extroversion as a musician’s cover for anxiety

When you have to visit a new place, or have a meeting with someone you’ve never met before, do your hands start to get sweaty, or can you feel your heart rate increasing as the moment draws closer? Or perhaps you become more withdrawn, almost closing in on yourself as if it would help to suppress the reactions your body is giving out on order to control it – never mind that the more you tighten, the tighter and more nervous you get?

It may have happened to you before. The more nervous you get, the more you talk. In fact, there’s even a term for it called excitable verbal diarrhoea, where someone who is unable to control their nerves starts randomly spewing out words. Has that happened to you before?

Being anxious is all part of our genetic makeup. It is a reflex given to us by our ancestry. These warning signs form part of the fight or flight reflex that occurs within thinking beings. Whenever you assess a new situation, your body gives off signals that alert you to danger. These signals may have made the difference between life and death, as prehistoric man learnt to distinguish between situations to engage in, and those to run away from. Get them wrong, or misread them and it would then have meant an early grave.

Of course, those evolutionary responses have stayed with us, but they may not be so applicable now to us – there are no woolly mammoths around the corner that we have to be afraid of. Nevertheless, what can you do if you get nervous? Different people deal with it differently. The composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has always been viewed in history as an extrovert, but his outward nature perhaps belied the introspection he felt privately. (Indeed, reading through his letters. you might be forgiven for thinking he had some sort of a split personality.) But maybe that was just his way of dealing with anxiety, by being extrovert. You can read more about this from the Piano Teachers N4 website.

If you class yourself as a worrier because you get anxious, just relax! Realise that the more you encounter new situations, the more you get dulled by them and eventually they will not make you anxious because they are not new.