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