August 22, 2014

Being a Beginner

Since Chicago is the birthplace of improv, I decided I might as well take a class while I'm back for my final apprenticeship. Improv consists of a lot of my major weaknesses—quick responses, speaking up, acting like other people, being intentionally witty on cue, no prep time—which is why I'm doing it.

A lot of my personal growth this year has come from of stepping outside my comfort zone and trying new things. In this instance, I wanted to face my weaknesses head-on.

I found a class for "ultimate beginners" taught at one of the long-running improv theaters, which sounded like a great way to ease myself into improv. My other classmates ranged from fellow improv newbies to experienced actors and improvisers. It gets a little intimidating when you’re surrounded by people who are a lot more talented and experienced than you, and it was easy to get discouraged at first. However, it turned out to be a huge benefit; I picked up a lot just by playing scenes with the more talented students or even just observing how they reacted to prompts.

It’s been a while since I got the chance to be an “ultimate beginner” at something. I’ve done some ridiculous things in improv class—and definitely cringed afterwards. However, I realized that nobody really remembers the goofs I made while playing around in class, and it really doesn’t matter. The instructor encouraged us to just go all out and experiment and take risks to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

So, if you’re trying something new for the first time, enjoy being a beginner! Everyone was new to something at some point, even if they seem like the world’s biggest expert now. In the words of Jake the Dog from Adventure Time, “Sucking at something is the first step to being good at something.” As a beginner, there are no expectations. Nobody is expecting you to come up with a masterpiece on your first try. So go ahead and observe, experiment, and try something new! It may sound really obvious, but sometimes we forget that it takes years of practice and trial and error to actually make something good.

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