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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

My dad was a fire fighter back in the day, and I remember one time I said something along the lines of, “Being a fireman seems hard,” to which dad replied, “Well, if it was easy, everyone would do it.” Then he said something like, “It looks like that guy got whupped on with an ugly stick.”

Yes, I come by my brilliant wit quite naturally. Thanks.

But back to the if it was easy, everyone would do it part, which was my original point before I got sidetracked by unicorns. Of course, no matter how easy putting out fires might become at some point in the future when we discover how to shoot water from our eyeballs, not everyone will choose to do it. Dad wasn’t long on logic.

But he did have a point before he got sidetracked by ugly guys, and that was that if things were all easy as pie, nothing anyone did would be special. Putting effort into learning a skill gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride in having overcome something – perhaps simply overcoming a lack of knowledge of the subject, or perhaps something far greater like overcoming personal obstacles such as fear or lack of confidence or an inability to express yourself or what have you.

Anytime you take a class in any subject, you are taking a risk. When the subject is something as revealing as improv, the risk goes up exponentially. You’re literally exposing yourself – your strengths and weaknesses are all right out there for the rest of the class to see. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and enlightening and mind-expanding all at once. Of course, the beauty is that everyone in the class is in the same position. They all have different strengths and weaknesses, but they all have them.

The trick is to learn not to compare yourself to others, and to just decide: I’m going to learn as much as I can and have fun doing it. If you simply must compete and compare yourself, compare yourself to how you were last class. Compete with the past you and see if you can make the present you better than that. Trust me, you’ll be better than some people at some things, and you’ll be worse than some people at other things. Just like life.

Pushing yourself is the only way to grow. The great news is, Held2gether improv classes are safe, encouraging and designed to be so much fun you forget you’re terrified. Yes, it’s hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. But it’s not, so most people don’t even try. And those who do should be incredibly proud of putting themselves out there and learning a new skill that involves so much of themselves.

If you want to push yourself, sign up for the next Held2gether Intro Class – we have 6-week classes and 1-day workshops. C’mon. Dad would be proud!

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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