Characters & Storytelling
Doubted myself out of a compliment.
Caught reading. "Go to college!" Had.
Ink drops. Tear drops. Rose up.
Advice: "Don't come back!" Never will.
Sickness. Recovery. Covering new ground, finally.
Playing at nerd to working nerd.
These are six of my six-word stories I wrote during our Storytelling Workshop with Bharat Ayyar. They are all about me and all authentic. I really enjoyed this part of the workshop and loved hearing others' stories. They were a briefer-than-Twitter peek into someone else's biography. I'm still figuring out what these stories say about me and what I want to say about myself (luckily we meet with Bharat again in two weeks to go over that). Our homework is to ask other people in our lives what stories they tell about us and compare them to the stories we tell ourselves.
I remember once at the end of a Level 2 improv class at the Magnet Theater we were given characters to play that went against our usual type. I was told to play an awful, drunken, abusive father. As one of the weaker improvisors in the class, I stuck to my safety zone like I was glued to it, so I almost always reflexively played sweet, buttoned-up, nerdy characters (really, I can recall struggling to remember Federico García Lorca's name during a scene which is just so sad both for me and the concept of comedy). Before I started this scene I went to the back of the rehearsal room and did my best to "punch" the wall. Then I let loose. It was a dinner scene and the line I remember most is saying, "Why do we bother feeding this one?" referring to one of my kids in the scene. It was intimidating as all hell to do but incredibly freeing at the same time. Several of my classmates say it was the scene they remember most from that day (and all the scenes were incredibly great). I don't think that scene was good because I'm at all a talented improvisor or actor—I'm not—but it was just so cathartic for me to do which I think made the other improvisors realize the things that are possible when you open up and step out of your comfort zone.
I've been thinking a lot about the stories I tell to myself about myself and how I can change them. For example, during Monday office hours one of my C4Q peers caught me getting teary and crying a bit at my desk because I was so frustrated with how much I didn't know and how scared I was to reach out to one of the busy tutors who were all sitting with other students. I find it incredibly difficult to self-advocate when I don't understand something, because my perfectionism kicks in and I start telling myself that I don't deserve help. I had to explain to my mom once that Perfectionism as I know it isn't thinking you're capable of producing work without mistakes; rather, it's believing that you're so worthless that you can't afford any mistakes. That's not something I believe about myself when I'm mostly understanding a topic or when I've gotten enough sleep, but when I'm struggling with a concept or tired that belief rears it's head and things can get ugly. By that, I mean I go into my head, get really quiet, and try to disappear, which is the exact opposite of how you get a TA's attention.
Sometimes I wish I could be more like the magnificent tree frog and when I didn't understand something I could just inflate my bright red throat to three times its normal size to signal to TAs that I needed help without saying anything. Biology and genetics being what they are, I'm just going to have to learn from my fellow students and reach out when I need help.
Luckily for me, the student who found me upset during Monday's office hours sat with me talked with me for quite a while as we waited for a TA or tutor to be free. It was really sweet, and really helped me calm down and focus on chopping up the giant chunk of things I don't know into smaller, more manageable chunks. Last night I got more sleep and today wasn't so bad, though I still feel I'm only at about 70% understanding of what we've covered so far (50% on assessments, dammit).
Tomorrow is another day and our last office hours before our first big test, so I'm hoping the now-or-never-ness of it all will help me overcome my desire to dig a hole into the safe, forgiving earth.