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by Darren Held

Have you ever noticed that sometimes in life things don’t go perfectly the first time (or first couple million times) you try them? Or is that just me?

Well, anyway, on the off chance that this problem affects one or two other people besides me, I’m gonna go with it.

Most of us weren’t born knowing how to do stuff, and sometimes acquiring the skills and knowledge we need or want to have requires a certain level – okay, a huge, ginormous level – of frustration. We try and study and work at something, and we get incrementally better. Or sometimes we make a big ol’ leap in a short period of time. Yay us!

Only then we hit a plateau. And we swim along in the muddy waters of this purgatory, fighting the current that threatens to take us backwards, and wondering if we’re ever going to get any better than this. Or if we’re just gonna drown right here in this swamp of mediocrity.

It’s been a tough week. Sorry.

But you know what? The only way to keep from drowning in that swamp is to keep paddling. The learning curve isn’t so much a curve as it is a zig-zag. You make a big improvement – usually beginners make a huge improvement at first because they’re going from a baseline of essentially no knowledge, so any learning is a big leap. Then you hit a plateau, where I suppose your brain is figuring out what to do with all that new stuff, so there isn’t really room to take in more new stuff. Sometimes, there’s even a downturn, where your abilities regress a bit. That one sucks. Trust me.

But if you don’t give up, there will be another turn and the zig-zag will zoom up again, and you’ll forget all about that murky friggin’ swamp. Until you hit the next plateau. But hopefully you’ll start to see the pattern and you won’t lose confidence every time you find yourself in the swamp.

Naturally, when you take Held2gether improv classes there’ll be a bit of a learning, uh, zig-zag. But the great thing about improv is, it’s fun even when it isn’t. How’s that for profound? It’s true. The games and exercises and people make improv one of the funnest (Darren’s word, not mine) things you can do, and even when you’re stuck in what seems to be a never-ending plateau, you don’t stay focused on your own frustration very long when you’re laughing your ass off.

Besides, swimming in the swamp is an excellent way to build your biceps. Now you know my secret.

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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