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by Darren Held

Somebody complimented me recently on many of my improv blog entries, saying that I was “brave” for being so honest. Because Darren and Richard have given me a really hard time about not accepting compliments graciously, I smiled sweetly and said, “thank you.”

The thing is, I’m not brave. I am honest here, up to a point. Improv helps with that because, no matter what character you are or what point of view you have, the information in your scene is coming from YOUR brain, heart, memory, fantasy, whatever – it’s coming from you, which means you’re exposing yourself every time you go on stage. After a while, that becomes less and less frightening and more and more fun.

So I’ve gotten a bit better about revealing stuff. And the truth is, I feel as though being honest here in the blog is no big deal because my shortcomings are obvious for all to see whenever I get up onstage and do improv anyway. So all I’m really doing when I explain them here is acknowledging what everyone can see for themselves and then, hopefully, using my challenges as an example to help others overcome theirs.

What I don’t do here (or anywhere else) is express myself well, stand up for myself or tell people how I feel. To me, that would be brave. But I’m often terrified of upsetting the status quo, of living totally in the moment, of being honest, of risking people not liking me… essentially, I’m afraid of what might happen. That kind of boldness has always escaped me.

But I’m much better than I was 4 years ago, before I discovered improv and found the joy and freedom of being in the moment… even if I can only stay there for a moment or so. If you have trouble being “brave” enough to express yourself, try improv. It won’t instantly give you the courage to say anything to anyone in any situation, but it’s a start.

Kendra shared a quote with me that contains this: “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” You know I’m all about the magic, so I guess it’s time to throw this bullshit caution to the wind and be bold. Then I’ll believe it when people say I’m brave.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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