I was recently reminded of why I gave up acting.

I was never an acting star or anything you’d have heard about, but I did participate in every school drama that was available to me in my youth.  Starting in grade 5, through to the end of my high school career, I was both the lead, and chorus in all those school plays like Bye Bye Birdie, Superman and You’re a Good and Charlie Brown. The classics.

In my final year, I switched from performing on stage to working back stage. I found all the same enjoyment, participation, and friendships, without the stress of actually being seen or judged. I got all the good aspects of community theatre without the stress of performance. It was a revelation.

As part of my work as an IT support guy, I get to witness a lot of different things. This week I was helping to set up for a live webinar (web based seminar) to be broadcast to hundreds of recruiters around the globe. The lady doing the presentation is a long time client of mine, and I’ve been serving her computer needs for over 20 years. I’ve always been a fan of her, and the way she has run her own business for so long, weathering hard times through downsizing, and then expansion. She’s a Survivor.

Today however, I was witness to her behind the scenes transformation into a complete basket case. Although she has spoken in front of people for years, the act of doing a live presentation on the Internet was stressing her out, and as some technical difficulties arose, she panicked and started freaking out, both at me and her administration assistant. I had come prepared for such failures and had four fails are plans for alternative solutions, but most were not needed and we were back ready to go live in a few minutes. Still, I was told, I had ruined her day.

It reminded me of how funny celebrities can be. A small stress can be blown up and so out of proportion that simple tasks seem impossible. She wandered the halls talking to herself, trying to regain the peace and tranquillity she needed to perform. I made comments about celebrity riders, and she’d soon be famous enough to demand a certain tea in her dressing room and no negative energy. I told her lies to comfort, like; “I read Meryl Streepe still has butterflies before a performance”. I do not have a clue whether this is true.

We joked she could do a seminar next on how to lose your mind. Step one: agree to do a live webinar online. Step 2: have your computer crash on the software needed to do such a seminar.

This was not a pretty sure to this otherwise calm and in control lady. I did not appreciate being put in the position of blame and comfort at the same time. Horrible things were said. It reminded me of my own insecurity and fears. The fear I’d judgement is not just for the well and people with low self esteem.

We all hate to be judged and evaluated, even in those cases where we are not, and it’s all in our heads. Deep breath. This kind of stress is fiction. We’re making it up.

The Ironic top to this story: the webinar’s topic was how to relieve stress in the workplace.