Have you heard of the drug propranolol? If you are a pharmacist, then you have. If not, propranolol (Pro-Pran-O-lol) is a medication typically used to lower blood pressure by slowing down the heart rate. Another use for propranolol? Performance anxiety!
What does performance anxiety look like?
Fast heartbeat (makes sense)
Fight or flight
Specifically, performance anxiety is when these symptoms present prior to a big event or situation in which you are expected to “perform.”
One of the great things about being a pharmacist, is that you can go to doctor’s appointments knowing exactly what is wrong and exactly what combination of meds you need to fix it. So yes, that’s how I got my first prescription for propranolol as a PGY1 pharmacy resident. I just asked for it.
Doc replied “Well that sounds good to me. How many milligrams?”
The first time I noticed I had performance anxiety was the year prior during my final presentation for my 4th year rotation at the American Pharmacists Association. I spent weeks developing this HUGE presentation that was like a meta-analysis breaking down ALL of the non-dispensing patient care services pharmacists could be reimbursed for. Even though mentally I felt like an expert on the topic due to my over-prepredness, physically, at the very start of the presentation I noticed that my body was displaying all of the symptoms —
Get me out of here
Once my voice stopped trembling, I ended up killing the presentation (of course) and that was the first time I looked back after a “performance” and thought, “Wow, what was I so nervous about? Especially when I prepared that much.”
So that’s what brings me here today!
I’m nervous about starting this “publish content on a regular basis and share it,” journey but you know what I realized? I don’t have to be! Not when my faith is bigger than my fear. Not when I know that my vulnerability is a strength, and not a weakness. Not when I know that vulnerability and safe community are what allow us to connect and find solace in our shared struggles.
Fast forward 5 years and a few propranolol refills later. February 2023. I had just began my position as the National Pharmaceutical Association Zone II Director and was getting ready to host my second webinar.
Performance anxiety decided to do her thing again.
This time I literally said to myself “Self? WHY are you so nervous? You host webinars ALL of the time for work. You GOT this.” That was the next time I questioned the “Game time butterflies” and the last time I had them before a webinar, to be honest!
Since I'm #AquariusGang, another thing happened in Feb 2023. I turned 30!
For me personally, there was something so liberating and affirmative about being 30 that made me realize, I'm here! I have finally arrived. I have nothing else to prove. I am ready to shed all of the feelings, rituals, behaviors, doubts... and people that no longer serve me, especially performance anxiety.
I'm sure my propranolol is VERY expired now by the way, but I still keep it in the home as a reminder of the power of my mind, my faith, and my breath.
So what's the play?
The next time you get ready to do something you already know you're amazing at, ask yourself "Self... WHY are you so nervous?!" (talking to yourself is actually pretty therapeutic)
Is it because your subconscious brain is so used to seeking out the worst possible outcomes, so you've trained it over the years to think failure first, when you've done everything to set yourself up for success? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, you've made it this far.
But in case you didn't know...
You are not your thoughts or your fears, because if you were, how would you be able to observe them as they come and go?
Just because you're nervous doesn't mean you're not ready.
Your life experiences have more than prepared you for each opportunity you are blessed with to perform, to showcase your unique abilities.
If you wait until you feel ready to do a thing, you'll never do it. So jump.
Doing big things SHOULD scare you, don't let that stop you.
Failure is the best teacher. Welcome failure, brush it off, and grow from it.
If your dreams don't scare you, are they really big enough?
It's okay to take medication for anxiety