A Time I Did Not Accept Defeat

March 25, 2021

First, the idea of not accepting defeat. I don’t have a particular story, but throughout my life, if I’ve wanted something, and get told no or the rules and stuff don’t let me do it, I will search and search or have searched and searched to find ways around it, some aboveboard, some sneaky. And part of that, I think, is just wanting to get my way. And part of it is a love of exploring all the possibilities.

No, I can’t. I thought I had an example, but it’s not there. So, I can be very tenacious. I have less of that quality now, and less of a need to get my way. And it feels so much more relaxing to approach life that way.

The overcoming fear, the one example I’m sure I’ve done it a lot because I’ve done such strange things in my life in terms of travel and activities that I’ve done, the one that’s more current is when I started improv theatre. I’d known about it vaguely, but then a woman in my French conversation group, I found out one day, maybe five years ago or so, that she did improv. And I noticed, you know, a little fear intake whenever we talked about it. But I was intrigued once I heard what it was.

And so, this went on for a couple of years. But I was too afraid to try it, not at the conscious level, but at the unconscious level. And then I heard about three years ago that she was selling almost everything and taking off on a permanent sabbatical if that can exist on her own quest, I guess. And so, she wasn’t gonna to be my link to going any more. So, I pushed myself, and I said I’d go.

And I went to actually her farewell evening. And I was just on edge. I had my, I think we say my heart and my throat, and that feels like the real sensation. And we did some games, warm-up, and then scenes, and I had no idea what that meant. But I had gone, and the teacher was really nice. But I was so afraid of being judged. I mean, that’s part of it. I just wanted to be good at everything. And it was so hard to expose myself in front of others and not be good at something.

And added to that was my fear of going into a strange group, the belief that I would not be liked, because it had happened enough times before. At least I interpreted that that had happened so many times before. But I went back after she had gone. And so those dual prongs of fear, of just doing it, the improv theatre games and scenes, and then also a new group that had been together a long time and being the stranger. And I went back, I gulped and went back.

And then the teacher did his first intro class because he had, the class was so big of people who’d been doing it, and new people like me coming in that he did a foundations class is what he called it. And there I was with other newcomers, and it was all games. And games are easy to do. You’re told what to do. It’s a simple thing, it’s often funny, but it stretches us. So, that made it a little easier. But still that fear.

And I just can say I’m very proud of myself. I kept going back. I think I kept going to the evening class and took all the foundation classes he offered over a year, probably three of them. But I kept going to the more advanced class too. I can remember some firsts. We were at that time in the Marin Shakespeare Company office space they had just leased and were building up. And after getting used to doing regular games, he said, “Okay, it’s song night.” And the game is you’re given…the group suggests a song type, you know, anything from Gregorian chant, to rap, to pop, country. And then totally separate from that you’re given a subject matter, that’s the farthest thing from that possible.

So, I think my first one was something, it was opera, and the subject matter was something off-color. And I was so nervous. And I think of myself as a good singer. I had been in my past. So, I felt like I had to do it really well, and I couldn’t, you know, I just couldn’t. And I was so pleased that we did this again. We’ve done it maybe a few times, maybe once a year or twice a year. And we did it a couple of weeks ago. And I just looked forward to it. I was so excited because something shifted over time. I stopped being worried about being judged. I stopped worrying about whether I was doing it right.

And during COVID, I have dived in or dove into so many different improv workshops and gatherings, up to 20 hours a week all over the country and Europe. And so, now I’m thrown up against that feeling of, “Oh, I’ve been doing this three years, I should be good at it,” and then flopping. So, I still get that little, aah, so from time to time. This week I’ve had it, even in groups where I feel more comfortable.

I’ve also identified that it isn’t necessarily that people don’t like me, although that’s true in some cases, because I can have a very strong personality that polarizes. But it’s also true that somewhere inside, it’s my problem with feeling like I belong, that I have somewhere inside the feeling I don’t belong. So personally, I love having new things to work on in myself, in my personal, emotional, or spiritual path. So, this is just another thing to play with, to work on, so that when I do leave this life, I will have done as much growth and sharing of that growth and sharing with others how I’ve done it so that maybe I can help other people along the way.

So, clearly, improv has been the measuring stick, that’s not the word I want, has been… Well, it’s the growth sector in my current life to face fear and do it anyway. Thanks.

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