Grappling With Nerves

Being nervous is a common concern among scratch dj’s, but what’s the biggest culprit behind nervousness? The biggest cause of nervousness, hands down, is the fear of making mistakes. If you’re familiar with the fear of mistakes, which you naturally should be, then you’ve likely dealt with it in a couple ways. You accepted it and moved forward anyway, or you let it prevent you from opportunities you would like to take on. More realistically though, you probably dealt with it in both ways or you wouldn’t be reading this. You moved forward enough to seek answers to the problems that ail you, but you’re still holding yourself back in some way.

There are many situations where becoming nervous about mistakes can affect you. Live performance, training with an instructor and even scratching on your own can all bring up feelings of panic. No one wants to look bad in front of others, not even themselves. The desire to scratch at your best is at the heart of any scratch dj that cares about their skills and how they’re perceived. Thus, the thought of screwing up, even just a little can be quite nerve wracking.

Redefining Mistakes

Let’s face it, mistakes are impossible to avoid so surely avoiding them is not the solution. What you need to understand is that mistakes exist for a reason. And that reason is to give you the chance to become who you truly want to be. If you run from or cower at the mere thought of mistakes, you have ZERO chance of ever getting to the skill level you desire, or experiencing all the great things that come with facing your fear head on. In short, mistakes are all potential learning experiences.

In fact, no amount of researching, teaching, training, coaching or mentoring will ever mean squat if you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes and make them often. I have seen it with many of my students before. They come in with this intense feeling like they need to impress me and then freeze up, struggling even more than they should. Ironically their fear of making mistakes is causing them to make more. It’s not until I introduce to them how important it is to freely make mistakes and the benefit of making them, that they become relaxed and start living up to their full potential.

Don’t Get Upset, Get Excited!

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not encouraging you to think that messing up regularly is something to aspire to. Of course you still want to get to the point where mistakes are minimal and you scratch at a pro level. However, in order to get to that point you have to embrace mistakes wholeheartedly and go out of your way to learn from each and every one of them. If you truly do this, not only will the fear of making mistakes begin to fall away, but your skills will begin improving at a more rapid pace.

So the next time you make a mistake, don’t get frustrated. Get thrilled and ask yourself what you can learn from it. The answer may not be obvious all the time, but it will come to you eventually. Believe me, because you’re going to keep making that mistake until you do. I know because I’ve made a TON of mistakes over the years, but one way or another I found and implemented solutions. Even if it meant seeking help from an outside source, like the training I did with my music mentor Tom Hess.

Cultivating Faith

Believing in your potential to achieve is important. Many people just like you have gone through the same scratch struggles and overcame them, but NONE of them would have done so had they not developed a "Can and WILL do!" mentality. Notice I said "WILL" and not just "Can". Simply believing you can, will yield very little results because it requires no action, but believing you will propels you into action because deep down inside you know that you won’t if you don’t physically tackle the problem at hand.

Don’t Let One Day Spoil a Lifetime

Undoubtedly, if you’re used to viewing mistakes as a negative it will take time to recondition yourself to feel otherwise. So don’t let a so called bad day on the turntables allow you to revert to your old way of thinking. Reread this article multiple times and keep reinforcing the idea that mistakes are your ally. Learn from them and they will reward you with more than you could ever wish for!