Six years ago I did something my 20+ year old self never would have imagined that I would do. I chose to be a stay at home mom. As a hard-charging, career-minded woman, I never once considered choosing this path but due to a variety of reasons, it seemed like the right decision. I would have lunch with my former female co-workers who had also recently had kids but returned to their jobs. After our lunches, I would drive home in tears wondering if I had made the wrong decision. I envied this life of theirs where they had a different identity other than "mom". Ironically, they probably were crying, too, for the exact opposite reason, wishing they could spend more time with their children. I remember jokingly asking my husband about 6 months in if I could get a performance review so I could assess how I was doing.
It took about two years of withdrawal from PowerPoint slides and Excel spreadsheets to really appreciate my situation. I found different ways to utilize my talents and instead of focusing on what I lost, I discovered the joy of trying new things. One of these things was improv. I never really thought I would do anything with it - it just sounded interesting. I saw an ad for classes and decided to take a chance. Quickly after starting, I realized I had stumbled upon something amazing. It wasn't about being funny. It was about learning how to listen actively, stay positive and enjoy what the scene presented you with. It was about being supportive - I got your back - you're never alone because someone is always there to help make sense of what was going on. Improv changed me. It changed how I looked at my life, how I dealt with my children and what I thought I was supposed to be when I grew up. After 9 months, I graduated from the program. That was over a year ago.
Since then, I think I've only performed on stage twice. Most graduates harness their love for it, join troupes and work hard to get better. It wasn't about that for me. For me, I had found something I loved to be connected to. I felt recharged just being around the people and the space. While I may get up on stage again someday, my real joy comes from sharing the delight of this thing I stumbled upon. I feel like everyone should try it. You might not want to stick to it but you'll definitely learn something about yourself and how to be a more supportive human being.
Six years later, I am once again in a situation that I never would have imagined. I now work for a comedy club. I get to take this thing that I love and share it with others in a meaningful, real world way. And, while I'm not sure how I'll feel when it comes time for my first performance review, I'm fairly certain that they got my back.
Amy DiCarlo is the Director of Business Development at Dallas Comedy House. Need to book a holiday party or corporate workshop? We can help with that! (There's always time for a sales pitch.) Amy has two masking-tape obsessed daughters, a husband with a podcast addiction, and a long-legged yorkie. Other new things she's tried the last few years: Tap dancing, mural painting, and pool maintenance.