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by Darren Held

My roof is leaking, so I clambered up there to see if it was something I could fix. You know, in the rain. It’s not so stupid – I have a higher-than-normal single story roof, but it’s flat and therefore relatively safe. Once you climb up and over the parapet wall surrounding it, that is.

Oh, for the love of bunnies, why is she telling us this?? I know, I know. I can be a bit trying at times. Ask anyone in Held2gether. They’ve all had more than their fill of me by now.

I have a point, I promise. See, the thing is, I’m afraid of heights. And, as luck would have it, it was something I could not fix. So I climbed up there and – more traumatically – back down again for nothing. But for whatever reason, I felt I had to try and so I did.

I didn’t want to. But I learned in improv classes how to face my fears. People take improv classes for an infinite number of reasons, from wanting to improve their acting to wanting to be less shy to wanting to get a better job. I was of the “less shy” variety, combined with a desire to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m not plagued by a myriad of fears or anything, but I do have a few and I wanted to learn to not let them get in my way.

Improv taught me that. You can’t plan in improv. You have no idea what’s going to happen, and you have to keep your mind open to the limitless possibilities. That means you can’t be thinking, “Crap! What if I do it wrong? What if nobody laughs? What if they laugh at the wrong things? What if they hate me? What if, what if, what if?”

You learn in improv that you can’t control the what ifs in life. And that, by not focusing on those negative what ifs, you are free to listen, contribute, do more. I’m not going to say you’ll never fail again once you’ve taken improv; real life includes failing, peeps. But in improv, you learn not to be afraid to fail. You learn to go big… and that sometimes that means you fail big. So what? You get up and you go big again!

Facing your fears and doing what scares you makes life a lot more interesting. If you’d like a more interesting life, take some Held2gether improv classes.

Just, you know, be careful on the roof. It’s pretty high up there.

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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