Facing the Fear
Statistically five to nine percent of people suffer from glossophobia; fear of public speaking. Those are only people, however, who are incapable of speaking in front of others. There are countless others who may not have the actual phobia, but would place public speaking high on their list of things they hate. The fear of speaking in public is all about making fools of ourselves. It's hard to fail, even more hard to fail in public. We become concerned about what people think of us. We put up defenses in order to guard our ego. We want to look good, be perceived as intelligent, successful, in control. If I don't risk, I can't fail. But on the other hand, if I don't risk, I can't achieve great things.
One of the catch phrases in Improv is, "Face the Fear." Run toward what scares you and face it head on. Let the ego die and don't be afraid of looking foolish. The defenses we put up in order to be cool and collected keep us from being as creative and caring as we can. Stretching outside your comfort zone gives you new experiences, new relationships, and literally creates new neurons in your brain. Stretching yourself, facing the fear, learning something new actually makes you smarter. That is why improv is perfect for anyone who wants to tap into their creativity, to keep their mind active and agile, and to be able to handle stress and the curve-balls life throws us. Improv at its base is not about being funny. You don't learn jokes or one-liners in improv. In fact, they are discouraged.
In their book, Lessons from the Second City: Yes, And, Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton write that the take-away from improv is, "to tap into the part of your brain that so often censors the truth for fear of being judged." Improv is about releasing inhibitions and fears so that the ensemble/group/community can be the best it can be. It's about generating ideas, communicating more effectively, listening more deeply, breaking down barriers, and making something out of nothing.
Who doesn't want to be smarter, more empathetic, and more creative? So what's stopping you? Fear? What are you afraid of; of not having all the answers? of needing help from others? of not being in charge? I think coming to grips with the realization that we are not in control, we don't have all the answers, and we need each other is an important thing. You need help in getting through a pandemic? You need help in just dealing with life? Face the fear, try some improv. You just might have the time of your life.