Saturday, September 11, 2010

Posting It 'Till I'm Faking It 'Till I'm Making It


I've long held onto the belief that I was a very "realistic" person. I'd look into the mirror, and what I saw was exactly what was there. I wasn't a genius, I wasn't an all-star athlete, I wasn't an amazingly talented artist, I wasn't god's gift to women. Was there potential for all that there? Sure. Maybe. Probably not though.

For so long I resisted the idea of being overconfident. The idea of believing yourself better than you actually are at the moment. Simply put, I felt you were dealt a certain hand early on in life, and your job is to then put those cards on the table, get up, and go "well, this is what I got - anybody who's got something better, the pot's yours."

Well, as it turns out [spoiler alert], that idea is kind of a recipe for mediocrity. If you don't believe there's limitless potential inside of you, then you'll never take any of the risks necessary to reach any big successes. It's such a simple formula: confidence begets perseverance, which begets higher success. Seems too easy, right? Like why aren't we all doing this with everything in our lives, constantly?

To borrow a metaphor a friend recently shared with me: you need to be able to reach an 'escape velocity' with your confidence (acting as a space ship here, you see) to get past the gravitational pull of any lingering doubts and potential rejection the world has in store for you - and hoo-boy, will the world deliver on its end. And when you grow up, as I did for a very long time, with a life mostly insulated from pain and rejection, the idea of willingly subjecting yourself to those things can seem masochistic. I love pleasure, not pain! Kittens, not rabies! Bacon, not 3rd degree burns! Orange juice, not orange juice right after you've brushed your teeth! You get the idea.

For 8 years I've been regularly getting up on stage to perform improv. And while I had some fun moments early on, there were definitely some TERRIBLE scenes and shows those first few years. God awful stinkers that I felt embarrassed and ashamed about. Plenty more "meh", along the way as well. The only reason I never quit was because I was just two damn stubborn to even consider it. I had some ridiculous notion in my head that I was meant to be good at this. I had a "funny guy" card in my deck, this was my destiny, dammit!

If I was 'realistic' about it, I probably would have stopped after enough subpar shows, or at the point in which it stopped being non-stop fun, which was part of the initial draw. I would have never gotten where I am today, which is a place of total confidence in my ability on stage. That confidence leads to more risks on stage, which inevitably leads to bigger laughs. That "funny guy" card I had before was me being totally overconfident, all those years ago. I wasn't really that funny at all back then! What a dope I was!

Well, who's laughing now, huh? The answer: audiences across the nation.*

If only I could somehow bottle that feeling of invulnerability I get after an amazing show. I could apply it just before a job interview, or a date. Actually, what'd be better is a time machine I could use to swap out with my present self right before he was going out, riding that wave of confidence. Or maybe a mind swap of some kind. This, by the way, is what I often choose to do rather than actually thinking about practical solutions like "read a book on building self esteem."

Anyways, this post is as much about reminding/convincing myself of this fact as it is putting this information out there, which of course has been known probably since people first starting becoming the slightest bit introspective. And it's taken me some 30-odd years to finally stop resisting and finally start embracing the idea of "faking it 'till I make it" with all the things I want to improve in my life. I'm not limited to the things I'm naturally gifted at (which is great, since there aren't a ton of those things). That knowledge is empowering, and it's the first step to building my confidence.

Now, if only I could stop slacking off so much...

-Matt

PS: Speaking of which...

Currently Playing: Finished Dragon Quest IX with a ton of bonus content left to play, enjoyed Dead Rising: Case Zero, which has me psyched for the full sequel later this month. Also snagged Machinarium during it's pirate's amnesty sale (don't ask) and thoroughly enjoyed playing through that as well. Currently neck deep in some Borderlands action as well (you're welcome to the developers for my convincing two others to get it for multiplayer purposes).

*Ok mostly here in NYC, but I've all performed in Charleston, SC, Philadelphia, and very soon, Hawaii!