As someone who grew up thinking of herself as outgoing and easy to get along with, it seems strange now as I have to acknowledge so much anxiety and insecurity… even in an age where “anxiety” seems to be the buzzword of the day, with stigma (thankfully) removed.
Upon reflection, this isn’t that surprising. We invest so much more in every move as we get older: the stakes are higher, and perhaps that innate bravado that may have driven our younger, dumber selves has been ground down a bit. That settling serves some purpose, but it is essential that we don’t lose sight of the spontaneous “do it” energy as artists.
Word geek that I am, I took a deep dive into this concept, and was recently reminded that “bravado” often has negative connotations, identified as akin to recklessness, bluster and grandiosity.
But for some artists and performers, a certain amount of even swaggerly confidence is necessary to propel them into the audacious actions that their jobs entail. For me, “bravado” is somewhere between those two attitudes, and straddling that fence effectively brings a lot of power into process.
Try this: take a good look at the “word cloud” below. It’s full of words that related to (but not necessarily synonyms of) “bravado”. Pick a word from this cloud: just find one that jumps out at you and seems to stick in your mind. Now, write that word down in great, big, bold print. Use a Sharpie, paintbrush or anything that suggests saying the word in full voice. Put it on your mirror, in your car, on your hand, and/or anyplace you’ll see it often for a few days.
Embrace that word for a week and see how it changes your view on the world. Are you more focused, more confident, more productive? Keep it up, saying it and riffing on it often, and see if you can develop this mindset further. If you find yourself feeling angry or anxious, try another word until you find one that fits you beautifully. (This isn’t an exact science, of course — but with a little trial and error, you’ll find one that fits!)
It’s not about one magic word. This technique can help you find a way into your psyche and change your outlook. It can help you re-evaluate the part of yourself that used to dive into life. You’ll figure out the rest. Go get ’em!