We all have it. Some of us are afraid of snakes or spiders. Some are afraid of heights. Some people have a fear of flying in airplanes, riding in roller-coasters, or swimming in the ocean.
I am afraid of losing things and talking on the telephone (thank heavens for modern advances like e-mail and texting!).
Bria has a fairly large collection of personal fears. It's just the way she came to this earth. As her mother, it has been the source of much frustration and sadness as I watch her struggle with these things, but also the source of much joy as I watch her slowly overcome them.
One of Bria's biggest fears is playing her violin in front of people. I know that stage fright is probably a fairly normal condition among children, but Bria's goes a bit further than that. A few years ago, at her second recital, she wasn't just scared, she was paralyzed. She had actually played just fine at her first recital, but when the applause came, she just looked around at the audience, completely shocked. To this day she wishes we could request that nobody clap for her, because, for some reason, that is what upsets her the most about performing.
Anyway, I have blogged many times about Bria working through her fears and playing in recitals and competitions, usually being heavily bribed by us. She had a recital this past week, and this time, I told her we are through with bribes. When she is asked to play in a recital or at church or for a competition, she needs to just do it, and the satisfaction of conquering a little bit of her terror and doing well despite stage fright would be her reward.
She definitely dragged her heels, and tried to get out of this recital. It was a Halloween recital, so that added another layer of scariness to her, because she doesn't like people to look at her, and she felt that if she wore a costume, people would think she looked stupid. She was also nervous about which song she would play, so instead of doing something she has recently learned, she chose a piece she learned about a year and a half ago: Witches' Dance by Paganini. She figured it went well with the Halloween theme, and she does love to play it--it's a fun song.
Her Ginormica costume that we finally broke down and ordered off the internet hadn't come yet, so she decided to dress as a witch. Unfortunately, as soon as she stood up to play, she realized that she couldn't wear the hat because it would get in the way of the bow. So she was embarrassed about having to take it off in front of everyone.
But she played.
And she played flawlessly, as usual. Her teacher was a little shocked, since she's never heard her play in a recital yet, and she always plays better in performance than she does in lessons. Maybe her nerves help her somehow? Anyway, she played wonderfully, despite the fact that she usually looks like she's being tortured up there with her refusal to smile and all.
After she was finished, she came back to where we were sitting and decided to stand behind us so she could see the next performers better. She put her hat back on, which surprised me because she had refused to wear it for most of the night.
I glanced up at her at one point and saw this:
My heart filled with pride and joy yet again for my little girl who had conquered just a little more of her performance anxiety. The look happiness on her face is enough to convince me that I made the right decision in not bribing her this time. She would never admit it, but I know she was genuinely thrilled with herself that night.
As well she should be.