Today's guest blogger is Impro Melbourne student Senem Eren.
My uncle comes home with one of those whopping cameras that they use to film movies. I’m only four years old and have no idea what this black box is, other than it’s got some really cool buttons that I want to play with. When I find out what it does, I am beyond excited. My poor uncle is trying to capture footage of the family, all the while, my little chatterbox self is in a conversation with the camera and not at all interested in whether anybody is listening to me. I’m just putting on a show with the lens as my audience, so wherever it goes, I follow.
Somewhere along the line, I lost track of that little girl. That part of me who unapologetically spoke her truth, who expressed herself without concern for approval, who was vibrant, carefree and bold in the way she showed up in the world. I became distracted by comparisons and timid in my expression, as I held onto the expectations that bound me to playing small, safe and at times, invisible.
Many years ago, I brought tickets to Theatre Sports and not having any idea of what I was in for, sat watching in awe as the audience directed what unfolding on stage. Stories came to life without a plan, preparation or a script. It was pure magic. I later discovered that this was improv and when I came across the opportunity to enrol in a intro to impro course with promises of silencing the internal critic, I was sold. Thoughts of “what if I say the wrong thing and look like an idiot?”, “what if I suck?”, “what if i can’t think of anything?” were lingering in the back of my mind as I entered my first class in a mix of apprehension and excitement.
Impro feels like home for the little girl in me. She breaks free from the rules and boundaries and gets to use her imagination to play, have fun and be spontaneous in a supportive environment. As adults, we forget how important it is to create space for these things. Spontaneity and play is actually a core emotional need that leads to rigidity and unrelenting standards when we don’t get to experience them as a child and don’t give it to ourselves as an adult.
Impro has taught me to get out of my head. I don’t need to rehearse my responses. I don’t need to know what’s coming up next. I don’t need to plan ahead. The more I get out of my head, the more present I become and the more present I become, the more silent my internal critic is, which means I just don’t care about what other people think. The fears of being judged, disappointing others and receiving criticism lose their significance, so I can be whoever I want to be in those moments. I learnt to embrace the excitement of the uncertainty and find reassurance in knowing that no matter how things unfold, I will find a way to experience a sense of joy.
Impro also taught me to take more risks and celebrate my failures. It’s such an incredibly freeing experience to let go of the fear of failure and playfully make offers without worrying about how they might land. Through happy failure, I realized that I don’t have to be the best at everything I do. In fact, I jumped into a beginners ballet class recently, because why not? And it was such a joyful, fun experience, because much of my time was spent in hysterics, laughing about how I couldn’t hold fifth position without feeling like I was about to fall over. I’m going to continue joyfully failing at ballet for a while because I am loving witnessing the growth in me.
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