After the peace and indulgence of the holiday season gave way to the sudden realities of emails, appointments, work, social engagements and deadlines, the hope I had held for the New Year quickly faded.
I had started this year with a clear vision of my goals, and armed with a handful of fresh resolutions, was determined to get in shape, get active and be productive. But as the fresh new year began to resemble the past year, filled with the very same activities and demands, I witnessed the death of each of my new hopes and dreams, having failed to integrate them into my life.
As my unfulfilled expectations mounted, I started to focus on how I wasn’t living up to the dream of who I wanted to be and gave in to feelings of shame and despair.
I was scheduled to perform as part of the Monday night improvised comedy show with The Bobbers but was in no mood to be funny, let alone showcased. Frustrated that I couldn’t seem to live up to my own expectations, I felt sure that I’d fail the audience that evening as well. Arriving at the venue early, I had decided to ask the first cast-mate I could find to replace me in the show that evening.
Alan greeted my arrival at the J-Lounge with one of his funny character voices, this one a raspy mix of Scooby Doo and Elizabeth Taylor. As I lifted my head, preparing to ask him to fill in for me, he immediately softened and almost whispered, “What’s wrong, sweetie?”
After having spent weeks immersed in the harshness of my own self-criticism, his tenderness suddenly filled an unknown craving. He wrapped his arms around me and held me close to his strong chest while I erupted in a wordless crying fit.
Through my sobbing I could hear Alan’s soothing voice say, “It’s okay, baby, it’s okay.”
As more people began to arrive, I retreated to the backroom to do my best to regain composure.
Derek, another Bobber, arrived and sat next to me to eat his pre-show snack. He offered me some of his fries, but I was too tense to shove any food into my belly. Seeing that I was disturbed, Derek encouraged me to open up, saying, “Sometimes things make more sense out loud.”
After giving breath to about four sentences, I soon joined Derek in munching on his crispy, delicious cheesy fries.
I survived the show that night. I wasn’t perfect, but improv comedy is built on teamwork. The show has a loyal following that appreciates the creative energy of the cast as a whole and the variety of our individual contributions. I benefited from the strengths of my fellow Bobbers, and the audience appreciated the show very much.
I came away from the night with a new appreciation and love for Derek and Alan. I had always admired their creativity, but I hadn’t ever witnessed the beauty of their depth of caring and sensitivity. With all my anxiety to be “perfect” and “strong,” I came to realize that I wouldn’t have experienced this side of their beauty had I not been so weak.
The experience taught me that sometimes sharing our weakness activates the strength in others, and in that way, our weaknesses can bring forth the gifts of depth, understanding, connection and release.
Thanks to them, my anxieties gave way to feelings of trust, appreciation and gratitude — for them, for life, and even for my bad days.