Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Day I Learned to Chill the F*ck Out

One of my friends from last week's Keith In London workshop wrote the following reflection on her experience:

The Day I Learned to Chill the F*ck Out
Keith Johnstone in London 2012 

The last six days have been life changing. I came on the 'Keith in London' workshop to learn about improvisation. There are certain times in life where you go to learn something; you go to be told and to be taught. Sometimes you acquire information and very occasionally you are given the gift of a piece of enlightenment. 

In September 2012 I thought I was pretty contented and lucky to know the secrets of life like doing what makes you happy; being open to opportunity and believing in your dreams and goals. What else was there to know?

It took me the full six days to realise that I was terrified of failure. I had no idea. It was a revelation. Standing in front of the group a few different times had paralysed me with fear. My heart was racing and my head was blank. I had a whole lot of theories of why this was happening.

Five days had gone past and the thought of getting up and improvising was now making me want to cry. In fact one time after I thought I had made a complete fool of myself in front of the group I sat for twenty minutes trying not to burst into tears. 

Then the turning point came. As with all lessons learned the advice was simple. 

“Trying too hard is stage-fright. If you are a good improviser I suppose this may terrify you, but if you’re a normal person it will be fine.” Keith Johnstone

Eventually the penny dropped. Stop trying to be a good improviser. The whole ‘be average’ thing started to mean something to me. It felt like the weight was slowly rising from my shoulders. 

I felt better instantly. I was happy to go on the stage, and happy to mess it up – because nobody had actually cared anyway if I got it right or not – except from me. 

On the way to the airport I was singing along to the radio in the car. The words ‘be average’ came into my head. I then enjoyed singing more than I had in years – and it sounded much better too. No pressure. 

Fail happily: the simple lessons are always the most powerful.