I’m pretty self-aware. I know when I’m being neurotic, I know when I’m being unrealistic, and I certainly know when I’m overthinking something. Obviously, though, as anyone who does the same knows, I continue to overthink it. As such, I’ve realized quite recently that, up to this point in my life, I was the type of person that when I figured out that I wasn’t the best at something, I either beat myself up over it or I quit. That was a pretty difficult thing to realize about yourself because it’s just so negative but it was true. I expect things to happen quickly and when they don’t, I have a tendency to lose my patience and I simply become so afraid to fail that I don’t even want to try.
Examples include the time in sixth grade when I didn’t become an incredible pianist after a few weeks of practice, I was done. When I was unable to teach myself all the chords and songs on guitar in junior high and high school, I gave up.
Luckily though (maybe sadly for my neighbors), I’ve since picked up the guitar once again and am much better, but why am I better? I tried and gave myself a fair shot. And, because David Bowie told me to do it in a dream. (I’m not just quoting Flight of the Conchords here, this really happened. I’ll happily share the strange, strange details with you if you’re curious.)
There have been multiple times in my short improv career when I’ve second guessed myself when I’ve overthought everything, and really when I was ready to quit. I don’t imagine that this feeling is foreign to anyone who’s been involved in improv for a long period of time, anyone who’s been acting or to anyone who’s ever been on an audition. But, there comes a point when you have to stop thinking, stop beating yourself up and start trusting your instincts. Here’s why:
You stepped so far outside of your comfort zone when you signed up for that improv, sketch, or stand-up class. You were so brave to step on that stage (no matter if you’ve never stepped foot in front of a crowd or if it was your 500th time). That’s pretty damn cool! You should be proud of that in and of itself. You’ve got this! Allow yourself to inspire you to keep going, keep trying, keep learning and keep growing! You do you.
If you’re having fun, you’re doing everything right already!
OK, so maybe that one scene didn’t go exactly “right” or that one joke didn’t land. Maybe you didn’t get out there as much as you wanted to. THAT’S OK! Did you have fun? Then, that’s all that matters. You did exactly what you were supposed to do.
You have an incredible support system – use them!
Remembering all of this stuff when you’re having a hard time isn’t easy. Thankfully, that’s what friends are for! I have never in my life found a more supportive group of people than those I’ve found at Dallas Comedy House. They all get it. Talk to them, talk to your teachers, just talk, whether it’s in regard to life, improv, performing, or a combination of all three. They, we, have all got your back.
You know what’s best for you!
Yes, you do. If it makes you happy, do it. If it makes you unhappy, don’t. And no, that doesn’t make you selfish. You’ve got to give it, and yourself, a chance though, or you’ll never know what could have been.
Megan Radke is currently a Level 3 student at DCH. She is a copywriter and social media manager by day and an essayist and mediocre musician by night. She is a constant consumer of books, music, film, and all things comedy. She is also great at racking up copious amounts of credit card debt with spur-of-the-moment travel.