This episode, we discuss confidence. And to the left, you’ll find a picture of a little kid posing confidently. I don’t know this kid. I just found his pic on the internet. Because that’s the type of in-depth reporting you can expect from a comedians passion project.
It’s finally here! OMG! It’s the new year! It’s upon us! For once I woke up not hungover and well-rested! It’s a miracle! I’m so excited! I love the first day of the New Year! Everybody is in the zone to self-improve and to think about all the ways they can be a better, more well-rounded person in the upcoming year. It’ll only last 2 weeks, but it’s the most fun 2 weeks of the year because I can actually talk to people about goals and the future and finding balance and nerding out on self-improvement books and inspirational quotes! AH!
I, of course, have a bunch of resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. Truth be told, I still need to tweak and solidify many of them. I don’t take this shiz lightly, as my avid readers know. I have a general list of things I want to work on, but I need to go through and make them strong goals- clear, actionable, and reasonable.
One of the biggest ones for me is getting my new business, Reasonable Revolution, off the ground. I’m offering goal coaching and consulting. I help people organize their life, strengthen their goals, keep the accountable for what they’ve promised themselves, and find ways to be more productive and effective on all elements of their life.
I’m really freaking excited about it.
Our mantra is that you can achieve anything you want… as long as you’re reasonable about it.
I’m excited to help people do something that comes naturally to me. And I finally feel like I can give back a little using resources I’ve been (often unknowingly) accumulating for years. It’s my passion. So I’m stoked to share it with you.
But I know that right now everybody’s got great energy and excitement for the near year, so they’ll be working on their goals on their own. But in 2 weeks or so, when you’ve realized you may have bitten off more than you can chew and don’t understand why you’re again not achieving what you set out to do and getting down on yourself… check out Reasonable Revolution. And we can help you get reasonable.
*This was originally just going to be a post about the New Year and how excited I am for it, but I guess I got even more excited about my new Reasonable Revolution business so I kinda went all advertisy on you. 2015 me is already surprising me! Hooray!
It’s simply this: Sometimes you need to pretend that you already are what you want to become in order to convince yourself and others that you are what you believe you can become.
In other words- fake it til you make it.
Yes, it’s simple. Yes, tons of people have already written about it and talked about it. No, I’m not a revolutionary for coming up with it. But if you have any shred of midwestern humility in you, you know how difficult this can actually be.
Because you don’t want to become full of yourself. You don’t want to be ego-centric. You don’t want to lose sight of your foundation and your friends and your groundings and the reality of the situation around you.
But you do want to allow yourself to own and be proud of what you are and what you believe you can accomplish. And that, sometimes, require becoming a person you are not comfortable admitting you are.
It’s scary to push yourself beyond what you believed to be your limits. It’s scary to admit that you’re putting yourself out on the line. It’s scary to throw yourself in front of people and say “This is me! I believe in me!” People will try and tear you down. All the people on the sidelines who are too scared to become themselves will shift their attention from their own fears and put them onto you and try and tell you you’re not good enough or you can’t do what you believe you can.
But they’re wrong. You can do anything you believe you can do. And if you pretend you are something or someone and do everything in your power to convince yourself that you truly are that person, you will become it. It may take a while and will require some intense change and growing pains, but you’ll do it.
So visualize what you want to become and believe that you are that person. Live it. Breathe it. And then strap in because you’re in for a bumpy and wonderful ride.
I often talk about my own fitness goals and ambitions on this blog. I like sharing my own personal goals and motivations.
As I got to thinking about it, I realized that I probably (unfairly) emphasize size for my own fitness. I’m happy with my body. I like to keep it healthy while still working on constantly improving it.
But I want to be clear about something- you can be fit and healthy at almost any size. I happen to be in an industry where what you look like can often determine what roles you get a chance to go out for. So I spend a decent amount of time making sure I can stay competitive. But I spend the rest of my time making sure I’m showcasing my talent that should get me work no matter what I look like. It’s both.
I’ve been working a lot lately with a very talented comedian, Justin Harrison, who wrote a book about being a bigger guy and still having confidence in this world. He also has a bunch of cool projects in the works that are similar themes. In working with him so much, I realized that I may articulate a skewed perspective of health. First and foremost, take care of your mental health. Love yourself. If you love yourself, you’ll care more about your own physical health. As you take care of your own physical health, you’ll realize your own strengths and weaknesses. You can slowly but surely improve- whatever that means for where you are in your life. But it all stems from loving yourself first.
I go through phases as a hardcore runner. In doing many races, I see runners of all sizes. I see “big” people competing in half marathons and keeping great paces. I see “curvy” women running full marathons (something I’ve never had any desire to attempt). And guess what? They do it. Good for them.
So just because so many fitness blogs- myself included- can focus on small measurements and celebration of the slightest hint of abs peeping through, please don’t let that discourage you from loving yourself no matter what you look like.
As James Blunt says in a cheesy love song I’ve been playing non-stop lately on my cheesy love songs playlist, “You’re Beautiful.”
I went to an open mic last week where you get a little feedback afterwards. I find feedback can be super helpful. I’m lucky enough to get out in the comedy world enough that now many of my friends are comedians so they’ll give me ideas and feedback offstage even when it’s not considered part of the mic itself. Sometimes just a simple word choice can make a big difference in a joke. But sometimes it’s great to hear from strangers you don’t know at all what ideas they may have for your bits and how they perceived your act. Getting feedback is absolutely necessary in this world. Especially when you’re still hitting up open mics so the feedback you’d normally get of laughter (or not) isn’t as easy to elicit because it’s not a regular show with regular people.
I’m getting off my point.
So I went to this open mic and a person went up with their notes and did their set. I’m deliberately keeping this as neutral as possible because this is not an attack on the person itself. It’s an attack on the idea they represented-fairly or unfairly- in the small interaction we had. And their set was fine. It was pretty well structured, they had clearly taken the time to write their jokes out and put them in an order that fit well within the time limit they were given. It was pretty ok. They had some good ideas and some ok jokes.
I was not totally sold on the performance. The biggest reason being they were so practiced and so rigidly on their notes that it didn’t feel like a conversation. And as a person who has a solo show and who does stand up as well, I have learned to feel the difference as both a performer and an audience. No matter how structured and rigid the jokes may be for the best stand up comedian who has practiced them thousands of times for hours, most of them still deliver them like they’re in a conversation with you. The good ones at least. That’s what differentiates Bill Burr’s one hour stand up special from Jon Leguizamo’s one man solo show. Both are essentially one man talking onstage for a long ass time. But one feels like a conversation where you can jump in and participate at any time, and the other feels like a confession where you need to stay quiet and listen to take it all in. That’s the general difference.
So this person felt like they were performing a crafted jokey solo piece. They weren’t really making eye contact. They were choosing a point in the room to look at when they weren’t looking at their notes. They listened for laughter but seemed to expect it and didn’t enjoy it when it happened. They were present for themselves but not really for the audience.
And- like I said- they’re jokes were ok. But just that. OK.
Then they got feedback. And this is when they lost me. I didn’t say much because I didn’t really know them and I would have to see them a few more times to know their style and voice before I think I could say anything helpful. And there really is no wrong in this world so they could theoretically create a stand up voice that’s more rigid and solo showy. I could buy that. But some other people gave feedback. And the look on this persons face was so… cocky. Like “Yeah. I know. I’m pretty freaking awesome at this. I’m pretty freaking awesome at everything I do.”
Now don’t get me wrong- I love confidence. I’ll buy all day long if you’re selling to me that you’re confident. But I think a major part of being confident is being open to feedback. Or even just being open to the world around you. Not being closed off and so sure of yourself that the mere peasants around you can offer you no help. The King isn’t confident. He’s cocky. The warrior who has to lead the troops in battle- he’s confident. Because he’s present. And practiced. And willing to take risks.
I was ok with this performance until I realized this person thought their shit didn’t stink. Then they lost me. Their shit stinks. Everyone’s shit stinks. That’s the whole point of going and trying is to get out all the shit and let it stink. And then you find the least stinky part and try to make stink a little less. And maybe, eventually, you can get a small bit of shit that doesn’t stink as badly as when you first started shitting. And maybe eventually parts of it don’t stink at all. Until maybe you have a tiny amount of shit that smells like roses. And you go show that to people. And it’s taken lots of hours and work and years. And you’re proud of it. As you should be. It’s very impressive that you somehow shit roses. And roses smell better than shit.
I really got on a poop tangent there.
My point is this- you have to be open to the fact that not everything you do or create is going to be good immediately. As much fun as it is to hear “good job” and as necessary as it is once in a while, it’s much more helpful to hear feedback that actually makes your performance better. You’ll know you did a good job when you feel it. When people are laughing. When you look over your set and see that every word, phrase, and intonation are perfectly in place as a succinct set up or punchline and nothing is lost. If there are any wasted parts or parts that don’t get giant guffaws- you don’t have a perfect set yet. There’s room for improvement. Your shit still stinks.
The greatest of the great in any craft recognize that they have to continue to practice in order to maintain their skill level and get better. And in order to realize you need to practice, you need to be open to the fact that there is plenty of room for improvement.
And if you’re a stand up comedian and you bring up notes, cool, but still make me feel like we’re in a conversation with each other. Make eye contact. Be present in the moment. Enjoy telling your jokes as much as we enjoy hearing them. Enjoy screwing up if it happens. The audience is always doing you the bigger favor, so treat them with the respect they deserve and be present with them while you’re on the mic.
Enjoy bombing. And get used to it. Maybe at this mic with your friends you felt like you were awesome. Great. Good for you. Those feelings will keep you coming back for more and keep your hope alive when you do a dozen rooms filled with strangers the rest of the week who don’t care about you at all. Come do some of the other rooms in LA and you’ll feel what it is to bomb with material you thought was amazing. You’ll be humbled. You’ll realize you need to work more. You’ll have thicker skin in every aspect of your life. You’ll appreciate your friends and the nights when you’re on so much more. You’ll realize that this is all part of a journey of self discovery to find your voice onstage and off. And you can appreciate the ups and downs equally while on that journey because they both serve you. And you’ll be a better person because of it.
Your shit stinks. And that’s ok. Everyone’s does. Recognize it then get to work.
The past two weeks at my gym have been odd. Not because I have to choose odd exercises to compensate for this hurting foot, though that hasn’t been spectacular.
It’s been odd at my gym because…everyone’s being so nice to each other.
Normally, I’m totally anonymous. And I kinda like it that way. I like being quietly left to my workout so I can lose myself in my breath and my awesome music. I can get oddly anxious about things most people don’t think twice about. If I think someone is watching me, I inherently put on a small show. Whether or not they actually are watching. It’s the performer that comes out. And I love the performer- she’s my favorite version of myself- but she gets a lot of time already in Briana-world. Sometimes, I like to be the quiet, awkward, unfriendly, poorly dressed girl who clearly didn’t brush her hair this morning that’s lifting in the corner while everyone around her swears she’s a lesbian. I like her because she’s totally different than my somewhat put-together, friendly, out-going funny flirty girl. I’m very much both people- just different versions of myself depending on my circumstances.
What does any of this have to do with the people around me being friendlier? Well, if I know them by name and see them often, I could start feeling self-conscious when I’m around them. Because I know them. We’ve had a conversation. I’m expected to be friendly now. I should probably make small talk. At some point, we may talk about what we both do outside the gym. I’ve got to always be sure I wave hello and goodbye if I’m waking by because I’m midwestern and we’re really polite and that’s just what you do with people you know. I can’t just be lost in my own thoughts anymore, I now have to be aware in case someone I know is around.
I’ve seen this one guy several times. He works at the gym. He’s often there when I am. Last week, he smiled at me. Then a few days later, he half waved when he saw me. Then the next time I came in, he scanned my card introduced himself. Now I know his name. And he knows mine. He smiled at me again when I walked out of the locker room and headed to my workout. As I write this, I realize this could sound flirty. It’s not. It’s just friendly. But the point is, he knows me know. And I know him. We’ve got eye contact established. Now I have to be nice to him.
The last time I went to the gym, a new guy was working the desk. When he scanned me in, he made small talk then said “Have a nice workout, Briana” and smiled again. Now I gotta be nice to this guy, too.
It’s confusing. I don’t know if I like it or not. We’ll see.
Maybe it’ll make me workout harder, though, if I think people are watching me.
That is, of course, when my foot starts cooperating again and I can return to my normal routine.
Until then, I drink a Bud Light Lime and I write about working out.