I love the pressure. The rush. The eyes in the room land on you, and it’s time to perform. Time be funny. Or insightful. Or to sing well or to ask the right questions or solve a client problem or whatever that particular performance requires.
People assume that because I thrive under this pressure — which may or may not make me an insane person, time will tell — that I must have awesome self-esteem. I am articulate and seem relaxed, so I must feel self-assured, right?
Let me tell you what goes through my head before I get on camera. Those close to me can testify that the following is 100% true.
Smile, here they come! Oh my gosh my teeth are SO yellow. Must get veneers the second I become famous because you know this famous person in front of me be chugging some coffee erry day and yet somehow their teeth are still Radioactive-Can-See-Them-From-Space White. I want that white teeth life.
Focus Kelsey. What is that one question about their third year of business? Dang I forgot.
[we sit down and I begin to fidget]
They are SO fit. Suck in! But look natural. Maybe I can suck in enough to convince potential agents I’m a size 6? Should have gotten smaller spanx. Must remember to reach out to Sara Blakely’s people again this week. Ugh, I have got to quit eating so much chocolate. My arm is the size of her waist. I wonder if I will ever be able to wear sleeveless stuff on camera. Speaking of, Man! I’m hungry. I forgot to eat again. LARDO! FOCUS!
[Go to look over questions one last time. Guest’s make up artist dabs guest’s nose, then turns to me…]
Oh dear God in heaven!
I did my own makeup at 6AM please don’t look at me! My nose is huge and I don’t know how to contour and these false eyelashes were a whopping $2 at CVS and one is about to pop off. Seriously. Stand back, fabulous make up man! The second I relax and start to laugh it’s going to fly off and somehow land in my guest’s mouth, and I’ll be excommunicated on every publicist blacklist there is, I just know it.
Whew! He approves. Sit up straight and lean forward a tiny bit. Shoulders back. Boobs out. Chin up! Wait, did I remember to change out of my set up shoes into my interview shoes? I did. Good. I hope no one looks at them, though, because they have been through the ringer and there are definitely no trademark red soles to be found down there. No one look.
KELSEY! GET A GRIP WOMAN. This is not about me. This is not about me. No one cares about my linebacker arms. They care about this chick’s amazing story and they want to know HOW she did it. They want to know how they can change their OWN life. I am a great interviewer, I just need to interview. I just need to be the conduit between this amazing guest and my amazing viewers.
Holy Crap she IS amazing. How did I even land this interview?! I am a nobody who was changing diapers in the burbs yesterday and I don’t even have 10,000 Facebook fans, what am I even doing here? HEY! I’ll tell you what you’re doing here, Kelsey. You’re doing your job being your badass self asking questions like you’ve done since you were a kid, that is what you’re doing here.
Right. This is MY HOUSE. Interviewing is what I do. Welcome to MY House, Celebrity Fancy Pants. Prepare to be interviewed like you’ve never been interviewed before! All eyes are on you, not me. No one is looking at my nose. Thank God.
God! Right! Lord, please help this guest be impressed and tell all their friends including their agent and manager and if this could actually be my big break that would be great. You know I had to at least ask.
Also, please help me to ask the questions my audience needs to hear answers to. Please help me perform well in this assignment I’ve been given. Please help me perform well in THIS current amazing assignment I have been given.
K. Remember that one thing about their childhood. Remember Sarah wrote in asking about the third product launch. Remember John from twitter’s question about creativity. Remember the staple questions: how did you survive the first three years? Big fat fail and how you recovered? Best part/worst part, biggest piece of advice? Remember to take a posed shot before they get up to leave. Remember to take a selfie. Remember to give them a mug.
Ok, time’s up. Let’s do this.
“Thank you for joining me for another episode of The Pursuit, I’m Kelsey Humphreys, here with…”
What can I say? My mind is a scary, sad little place.
Here is the lesson and reminder for us. It’s something that I hear in interview after interview, in different variation, from one influencer to the next. My variation is this.
Look Out, Look Up.
Every time, without fail, I turn the spotlight on myself and all my flaws, as if I’m standing on a stage in the circle of light completely naked. My teeth, my arms, my frizzy hair.
Then I look out. First, I turn the spotlight beyond my Self and instead to the gifts that were given to me. I am capable. I can do this, whether I feel ready right now or not.
Next, look out again. Shining the light on the guest stage left. Their story. This is about them.
Then I look out further, shining a spotlight into the metaphorical auditorium. The audience, the reader, the viewer. This is actually aboutthem. The whole reason in the first place! To serve with the gifts I’ve been given. To break down success for that person who wants to change their life.
Lastly, look up. Whether you believe in Jesus, the Universe or some sort of Divine Creativity, call out for help. Shine that light straight up like the Bat Signal.
To be a vessel in this world is to be used, right? To be filled, picked up, turned over, and poured out into the glasses of others. Thankfully, this requires someone else’s hands to do the heavy lifting.
This is where confidence comes from. We’ve heard confidence comes from within, but for me, really, it’s not from within at all.
Even if you’re doing what you’re meant to do, you’ll get sweaty palms and dry mouth. Many of my guests — celebrities, multimillionaires, influencers with thousands upon thousands of followers — have had serious dry mouth. It’s often the only tell that gives their nerves away.
The next time you’re feeling shaky, rattling on inside about all the ways you’re unqualified or unfit, look out and look up.
Also, playing Welcome To My House by Flo Rida on repeat beforehand helps too. Or so I’ve heard.
This post is a working excerpt/idea from my upcoming book Success for the Rest of Us! If you enjoyed this piece, get my weekly personal posts and book updates emailed to you. You can also show the love by hitting the heart button below so more people will see it.
This post also appeared on Medium.com.