Single Girls Guide 21Erin Foster

On Saturday night, I participated in Hello Giggles’ “Over Sharing” performance night at Upright Citizens Brigade. If you aren’t familiar with UCB, it’s a comedy school that was started by the little known, never-gets-a-job comedian named Amy Poehler (along with Matt Besser and Ian Roberts). The task at hand was telling a personal story that you haven’t written about for seven minutes or so.

When Sophia suggested for me to do the show, I only agreed because she basically didn’t give me a choice. When the day finally arrived, it dawned on me that  I officially would not be able to get out of it unless I killed myself. Let’s not be dramatic – I wasn’t going to slit my wrists over stage fright, but I mean, I considered claiming a depression so severe that my suicide watch would coincide with the show and render me ineligible to participate. Anyway, I’m notoriously “all talk” as they call it in the biz and I bailed on faking my own death attempt. Wimp.

I got to the dinner last night that was held next door to UCB for us to all settle in before the show and ordered some chicken fingers. I couldn’t eat. When I was introduced to people, I forgot their names before their hand had pulled away from mine. I kept finding any mirror in the restaurant that I could obsessively look into, annoyingly playing with my hair and squinting my eyes, which is part of my mirror face when I’m feeling self-conscious. Everyone kept asking if I was excited and I just nodded, while throwing back a glass of Pinot Grigio. Or two. I figured once the wine kicked in, I would loosen up and morph into someone cool enough to not be nervous, but as soon as that pinot warmed my throat and I started to feel the casual pull into being tipsy, I realized something very bad was about to happen. I was about to cry. My friend looked at me and goes, “Oh my God, are you about to cry?!”

I got up and ran to the bathroom and did that thing where you tilt your face to the ceiling and blot the corners of your eyes and laugh uncomfortably. But there was no stopping it, I was full blown crying by the time she barged into the bathroom ready to slap me out of it. And she did. Without her hand, obviously – this isn’t a romantic comedy, this is my freaking real LIFE! Like, 36 hours before you are probably reading this! I felt better once I cried. I needed to get it out. Of course Ruby Karp, who was going up before me in the line up and who is 11 tweeny years young, was just bopping around the green room without a care in the world, confused by the look of pure fear in my eyes.

The moment when I walked through the curtain and onto the stage, I thought I was going to pass out. When I didn’t, I genuinely wondered who the hell was going to tell a story now because standing in a spotlight in front of fifty people silently waiting for me to make them laugh just did not seem in the realm of something I could pull off. But once I started talking, it all just magically went away. I was hearing laughs at the parts I was hoping would be funny and I didn’t see people texting on their phones. I felt comfortable and capable of pulling this thing off. When I walked off the stage, I really felt like I was walking out a different person.

Now, I know this story is not really in line with my usual Single Girl’s Guides, but I did something really important last night that changed how I felt about myself and I know it’s an important lesson. I don’t think it’s the same as when people just tell you to blindly do things that scare you. I think doing things that scare you like sky diving or eating chicken liver are good for keeping you open minded and breaking barriers in your life. But it’s a whole other realm when you have something hovering in your life that you really really WANT to do. That you think you would be good at. That you think you might even be passionate about, but you’re too scared to do it because if it turns out you aren’t great, it will surely break your heart and your spirit. This is the lesson I learned last night.

I have always secretly wanted to stand on a stage and make people laugh. But I was more comfortable avoiding ever having to find out if it was something I could actually do. It’s so much easier to just imagine yourself headlining at The Laugh Factory than to take the first small step towards actually making that happen. And now that I did it and refrained from laying down on the stage and crying in a fetal position, which was what I feared I might do, now I feel like I could do anything. It might sound cliche, but it’s absolutely true. I feel like ten pounds have been lifted off my chest. The only difference between you and the people you admire is that they chose to make those first steps towards their dream. They put themselves out there.

We all need reminders and inspiration to get out there and do something. I got mine last night and now I’m passing it onto you. It relates to a guide for single girls in that this is the time for you to chase after something that feels out of reach to you. It’s the time to make choices you can be proud of. It’s the time to be the best version of yourself and in the process, somewhere along the way hopefully you attract the best version someone else has to offer. The more you challenge yourself, the higher your expectations become for your life and the people who want to have in it. You ain’t got time to waste girlfriend. There is always someone else who’s willing and ready to push you out of the way and take your spot. Don’t let that bitch in.

Image via annettecolby.com

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  1. This is so crazy you’re writing about this because it’s exactly what is happening to me right now. I recently decided to go for what I wanted in my life and it is something that scares me, but in a good way. I just signed up for improv classes at Second City. I took the first step. I did it. I never imagined myself taking that first step, but I know I’m on the right path towards something that is going to make my life even better than it already is. Thanks for always telling it like it is, Foster. You’re amazing.

  2. I love this–thanks for sharing. I just did my first stand-up comedy show last week and it is a truly amazing feeling!

  3. Congratulations Erin! Although I must say, I’m not surprised that your performance was awesome! I mean, hello, just read your blog entries woman! :D On a side note, it’s reassuring to know that even the coolest people (that would be you) actually get nervous about going for their dreams. I always assumed that people who were already obviously so talented at what they did never got nervous doing what they were good at it since it was already so natural for them. Does that make sense? Anyhoot, great post as usual and my favourite part of HelloGiggles! <3 <3

  4. I dropped out of college with a 3.9 GPA and five classes left to get my degree because i just decided “i can’t do it” I didn’t have any confidence in myself…i never do. I have had a crazy, fascinating life and i always say i want to write my memoir and everyone who knows anything about my life tells me that i need to write it, but i can’t even start it.

  5. this is exactly what i need to read tonight. thank you for sharing!!!

  6. Now you need someone’s blog how to be a comedian! ;-) To be a comedian is the hardest job. To make people cry easier. I think the best comics are the Afro-Americans and Kurtis (actress from a movie with Arnold Shvar….ger where she plays his wife-agent FBR). The French, Chaplin. Italians movies. Jokes from life! Comedians actually are rather serious in life. How strange. I giggled twice through your post and one smile.

    About fear, yes, fear is OK, no fear only those who are stupid. That’s so strange to hear. You must be very awkward person. You need to express your personality, so you can gain more new roles. Maybe I am wrong but in France there is the comedy-pantomima school.

  7. You rock Erin! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Go, you! Too often, I find myself not doing or trying something because I’m afraid I’m going to fail and my fear of failure is practically phobic. In the future, I will remember how this anecdote.

  9. (my comment didnt post D: so I hope this works) BUT WAY TO GO ERIN!! THAT IS SO AWESOME!! I look forward to your articles every week and I think this one takes the trophy, at least for me. Especially since I am pursuing the world of film as a writer and director and I feel like I am walking in the dark. It’s really hard and scary. A lot of times I want to give up and wish I was into science or math so I could pick a more planned out career but I know at the end of the day that is not who I am. I am a writer with a vision and I will utterly regret it if I don’t take a risk and just go out there and DO IT! So thank you again for reminding your readers that everyone is afraid of something but you never know what the possibility of the situation could end up being if you don’t try. And the only people that can hold us back in life is ourselves. So just thank you for the reminder. I needed that today. So I’m gonna keep on writing and get my voice heard! <33

    • Yes, you have to keep at it! Don’t let your fear of failure stop you from trying something you love. No one is more qualified than you if its your passion. I believe in you. xo

      Erin Foster | 10/17/2011 11:10 pm
  10. LOVED IT!!!!

  11. I’ve been hearing quite a bit about the show and really wish I could’ve been there :)
    I think this post was possibly one of the most inspiring pieces I’ve found on HelloGiggles :)
    xo

    • I’m so glad. Let my melt down inspire you so you don’t have one.

      Erin Foster | 10/17/2011 11:10 pm
  12. Girl, your story killed. And knowing that you were nervous to tears makes the story you did tell AND DELIVERED all the more inspiring, and wicked good. I said to someone backstage, maybe it was you, that y’all were performing to an audience that was warm and welcoming and clearly it showed as we drank in every word you and everyone else said. I say this as Ruby’s mom, but also, as someone who was there.

    • Aww thanks :) it was such a great show. Your little amazing Ruby was a tough act to follow.

      Erin Foster | 10/17/2011 11:10 pm
  13. You were absolutely amazing on Saturday night! I was in the front row and thinking the whole time you were up there, “this woman is fabulous!” The show was so fantastic! I hope you guys do it again and I’d love to hear more from you!!! You can overshare anytime :)
    Also, loved this article and it is definitely much-needed on a Monday morning.

  14. Erin! I LOVED your “over share” story it had me laughing so hard I was nearly in tears! “Your dog is ready for the wedding”

    - Amanda

    @bitchbitchbitch

    • Isn’t it amazing when we can laugh about something that seemed so traumatic at the time?! Oh, life.

      Erin Foster | 10/17/2011 11:10 pm
  15. Reading this gave me chills! You were so excellent and I’m glad it turned out to be a positive experience for you. xo

  16. Just to note, Matt Walsh was also a co-founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, along with Amy Poehler, Matt Besser and Ian Roberts.

  17. This is great, and as someone who was in the audience, I had NO CLUE you were freaking out! And your story was hilarious. So, props all around.

    • I guess i should have just kept the whole cool act in the forefront! Thanks so much for being there!

      Erin Foster | 10/17/2011 11:10 pm
  18. this post = pure inspiration! and I’m very proud of you Erin :D love!

  19. Advice from such a genuine place can’t be wrong…I’m going for it!

    *minutes later she got serious about the blog she’d secretly been writing for the last 2 weeks*

  20. I’m so impressed that you were able to do that…even if you are a professionally funny person! I consider myself to be somewhat funny, if only to my sister, who thinks I am hilarious, but I could never do what you did! It’s nowhere near as brave as what you did, but my new blog is sort of my foray into the public eye. I’m putting myself out there and hoping that people like me…even just a little!
    http://www.curiousvisions.blogspot.com

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