UCB Diversity Program Diary Part 1

I just finished taking Improv 201 and Sketch 101 within this past week and it has been a lot more stressful than I originally anticipated. I was taking Sketch 101 on Mondays and Improv 201 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It felt like I was in actual school for a month. There are 8 sessions of each class and you usually do it in 8 weeks, but for this improv class it was twice a week so I was done in 4 weeks. I would definitely reconsider taking a twice a week class next time around especially because it gives you less time to see free shows and I really wanted to see more shows than I had the opportunity/energy to.

I am taking classes at UCB because I was a scholarship recipient last year. UCB offers scholarships to diverse students who are financially needy. You get 2 scholarship credits with the scholarship and I used mine to take Improv 101 and Sketch 101. A month ago, the program offered free spots into 201 classes that they were having a hard time filling so I jumped on the opportunity.

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that’s what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.” -Amy Poehler

I took the 201 class before feeling ready because of this Amy Poehler quote. I was afraid to take Improv again and didn’t think I’d be taking 201 so soon after 101. I did find out that I’m not good, at least not as good as everyone else. But the quote is true, now I know something about myself. I know I’m not a performer and I’m not interested in being a performer, at least not an improviser. I did also learn that I give good monologue and I can initiate great, which I’m sure means something valuable. I left my final 201 class feeling really dejected. Mostly because I was gut-wrenchingly tired and also because I still can’t connect to people. Improv wasn’t the magic elixir I thought it’d be; I’m not suddenly outgoing and great at conversation, I might even be worse at those things now because of the negative feedback loop of trying and getting bad results.

After my final 201 class I cried in between the ACE train entrances near Staples in the training district while smoking a cigarette. A girl was sitting shotgun in a car directly in front of me, and she was also crying. At a certain point our eyes met and we both noticed that we were both crying, at least in my head we did.

I got on the Subway and tried listening to music since it usually calms me down and I wanted to feel calm. It wasn’t working so I settled on finishing the Beautiful Anonymous podcast episode I began listening to at an earlier point. I had about 43 minutes left in the podcast, about the length of my commute. The episode featured a caller named Julia and she talked about 1. her homelessness 2. her experience in the sex industry. This reminded me of my story about those two things which I wrote about in my post Deliriously Hungry: Part 1.

Now I’m in my bed, feeling calm, finally and thank god. My cat is on my tummy as I write with my laptop on my lap. It’s called a laptop. Imagine that. The podcast helped, medicinal herb helped, writing is helping.

I no longer feel like I want to die or burst into flames or anything like that. I felt like that just 1 hour earlier. I just want to understand why I feel attacked. Sometimes I don’t feel attacked, and I always notice when I don’t feel attacked because it stands out. I should specify that this is only describing how I feel when I’m with other people. With ANY other people at all. I only ever feel safe in a bed in a room with no other people around. I don’t want to feel this way, like people make me want to die, but I also don’t want to feel like I want to die.

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I started doing this thing on Tuesday, where every time I think a negative thought about myself or care too much about what someone else thinks of me, I play the batman slapping robin meme in my brain with batman slapping me thinking negative thoughts. Doing this has been really effective at getting the negative thoughts to go away faster.

I don’t hate myself. I really, absolutely don’t. If I’m being honest with myself, I love myself to an almost narcissistic degree. Wanna know my favorite person to look at it? My best friend? My favorite lover? My hero? Who I think should’ve been Time’s Person of the Year every year, since 1987? You guess it. Me. If I hated myself, why would I spend so much time just being amused by my own content?  Where do these “I hate myself” thoughts come from because I’m pretty sure it’s not my own brain. As I’m trying to make clear, my brain thinks I’m the shit.

Are our thoughts our own? I am having a difficult time with improv. I feel detached from it because I don’t relate to anything about it. I’m a solitary person, improv is a strictly group activity. I am bad at conversation, improv is primarily having conversations. I’m a pretty slow and steady thinker, improv demands fast and broad. Doing improv for my body and brain feels like entering a warzone. It’s so taxing on every part of my being.

For the purposes I’m taking it, which is to improve my writing and make connections with like-minded people, improv is amazing. But my soul is just not into it. My soul is feeling something heavier than I can understand and I don’t know what it is and also, I really want to know. Just need to slow down. In the meantime, I’m going to search for more mentally helpful memes. Something tells me, they might all be helpful.

Thanks for listening.

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