Wisdom

Improv (that Acting Thing Everyone Thinks is Weird) Changed My Life

Everyone has said some stupid things in their life.

Although, good or bad, stupid or smart, who really defines a standard of how we speak in the first place?

During my sophomore year of college the majority of my conversations were spent wondering why I said something to that person and hoping that he or she didn’t think I was an idiot for saying it. Constantly I was thinking, “why did I just say that?” and “wow, that was dumb” or “what the heck am I saying?”.

“Why did I just say that?”

“Wow, that was dumb.”

“What the heck am I saying?”

– Younger Jon

 

If that’s not insecure, I don’t know what is.

Instead of simply embracing my failures in conversation and being “all there” for the other person, I couldn’t hold a conversation without feeling uncomfortably awkward. I’d feel embarrassed, my heart would race, and I would just stop dead in my conversational tracks. I couldn’t get anywhere with people, so the solution? Just simply stop associating myself with people.

Eventually down the line however I had to let go of this. How did it happen though?

I met this woman who became a relatively close friend of mine through other mutual friends. No, I didn’t like her or anything, but she did have that personality I felt comfortable with that allowed me to speak freely the more I got to know her.

Long story short, this woman called me out three times over some stupid stuff I did say. Like, REALLY stupid and hurtful stuff that absolutely shamed me. Yes, on top of already feeling dumb about seemingly stupid stuff already that I had been saying, she gives me the verbal back hand about some actual very inappropriate stuff I had said to her.

This put me into an extremely introspective and thoughtful state about where I was taking my conversations with others. I knew that at that point, it was time to mature and let go of this idea that what I have been saying is idiotic, because quite frankly, it’s not like I’ve been having these moments of people calling me out on something.

I reevaluated and let go of overthinking my conversations a little more and the anxieties and stresses of verbal failure began to fade away only to surface from time to time but overall, it was beginning to fade away.

What a relief. But it doesn’t end there…

Fast forward several years later and I’m taking Improv.

I never thought I’d be taking Improv. To be brutally honest, I thought it was for geeky people who didn’t have anything better to do with their time. When I thought of Improv I thought of Michael Scott from the Office and it wasn’t a cool picture, funny, but definitely not cool.

However, 2017 was my year of “courage” and to have courage I needed to do the “geeky” stuff to get out of my comfort zone and into a world of change and new possibilities for myself as an individual. As soon as I found an Improv class to take on the weekend, I jumped on it and went all in.

My first class was an intro class with BATZ in San Francisco called “Improv for Shy People”.

Two words to describe that experience: LIFE CHANGING.

Have you ever walked out of a building feeling so refreshed in the renewal of your mind and soul? If you haven’t, try going to an introductory Improv class with BATZ Improv cause man was it amazing.

We played Improv games, got to know each other in smaller groups, did a little acting at the end, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, that class was HARD to get through, but the instructor made it so utterly comfortable for all of us, catering to our introverted character and shyness. Everyone was having an amazing time and by the end of it we were so thankful to have gone through the class with this lady.

Unable to find a class where I actually lived, I went on a hiatus for a while until a weekend Improv class came up just ten minutes from where I lived! It was exciting to say the least and a lot of what I experienced from the introduction class was carried over to this class. My instructor too originally trained with BATZ Improv.

Now what Improv has taught me was that to speak and speak with failures is to be human. Having an imperfect conversation is completely normal to further practice how you relate with others.

Now what Improv has taught me was that to speak and speak with failures is to be human

No one wants to speak to a robot, so embrace your weirdness and allow yourself to make mistakes. Eventually, you’ll just get better, but you have to allow yourself the opportunity to just say something rather than hold back and risk an “imperfect” conversation.

What I think is, if you DON’T allow yourself to fail in conversations, you’ll never get better at speaking to others. To hold yourself back and make that a habit because you can’t stand what you say will only make things worse for you. THINK before you speak, but don’t think TOO much.

PEOPLE ARE MUCH MORE FORGIVING THAN YOU THINK.

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