The scariest moment is always just before you begin - Stephen King
When I came home from my vacation to Portugal, continuing my “current life” while trying to simultaneously plan my “new life” was making me feel a bit schizophrenic. It was like having a double life but not the cool superhero kind, more like the two-families-in-two-different-cities kind that you hear about on Oprah. Funnily enough, despite all the years I wanted to be a spy, my experience confirms I’d actually be terrible at leading a double life. So long sexy, leather Avengers cat suit.
Just as my January launch date was looming, I was feeling more apprehensive than I expected, complete with a pit in my stomach, racing thoughts and a heavy heart. So naturally, I had to double-check about whether I still wanted to go through with this or if I was just doing it because I said that I was going to and I was too stubborn or proud to say I had changed my mind. When I paused to reflect, I came face-to-face with the monster that was living under my bed: my own fear.
In this planning phase, good days are full of excitement, enthusiasm and adventurous spirit; but the bad days are hijacked by fear ninjas that make me question everything. But at some point in the madness, I had a stroke of genius. I realized that I needed a launch runway between winding down my Vancouver-life and soaring into my sabbatical. I knew just the thing: improv training... in New York City.
When I say “improv” I’m talking about improvisational theatre: getting up in front of an audience and performing a scene or a story without a script. For most adults, the idea of getting on stage inspires a sense of dread... let alone performing a scene that created on the spot from a spontaneous audience suggestion. Sounds crazy but hear me out.
Personally, improv theatre class has been on my to-do list for the last two years. Who doesn’t want to play fun (read: ridiculous) games where you have to pretend to be a computer hacker addicted to KitKat bars or to catcall a rhinoceros. Are you on the endangered species list? ‘Cause baby, you’re one of a kind. However, when competing for eight consecutive Saturday afternoons in my busy grown-up life, something always trumped it. However, as a sabbatical “runway,” improv felt like the perfect boot camp training program I needed before beginning my first internship.
Here is my (potentially irrational) rationale:
After all, improvisation and play is exactly what travel, and this year-of-learning, is all about. (Admittedly, I choose to ignore the fact that I would have to perform in front of real, live audience, which may have been a bit shortsighted on my part).
But equally important, and perhaps a bit surprising to some, Really Smart People say that improv is one of the best leadership trainings you can do. In fact, I’d spent so much time thinking about improv theatre’s connection to leadership I think I may have started preaching it like the gospel in the recent months. The connection had become so obvious to me that when I wrote my farewell note to colleagues announcing that improv theatre was the first step in my adventure, people responded by exclaiming that they didn’t know I was so into acting and they were excited that they might know famous actress one day! I had to laugh out loud because that couldn’t be farther from my intention but I had clearly left them in the dark about my true motivations.
So on a rainy November afternoon, armed with my new fear ninja counter-intelligence program, I pressed “Register” thereby committing myself to a three-week improv theater intensive at Magnet Theatre – despite never setting foot in an improv class before. As friends would say, I don’t do anything half way!
Nice to meet you...
I'm Andi (hence the blog name). I'm a travel aficionado, passionate eater, tireless explorer of internet rabbit-holes, and amateur thinker. Join me as I give it all up (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration) and go around the world on a mid-career "soul sabbatical" & year-of-learning to figure out what to be NEXT when I grow up. Won’t you grab a cup of chai and stay a while?
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