I was trying to write some stand up material today and found myself thinking about fear and particularly having an irrational fear of slugs – not as it happens anything I could make funnier, but it got me thinking about my own fears.
Fear is an interesting adversity for me – it’s something that has plagued me throughout my life without the fear of whatever it ever really manifesting itself. I’ve had the usual fear of rejection but even that, when it happened was half as bad as I thought it was, I’ve never been cruelly rejected in the sort of way my head expects (usually involving a crowd of chanting people straight off the set of Grease…).
I’ve been acutely aware of this for the past few years, at first it was fear of being a shit playwright, then of being bad at my job, then of relationships. With all of them I’ve tried to get around them by taking a running jump, committing a play, taking the tough job and committing to a lady (a beautiful lady at that ;-)).
I saw a few shows in Edinburgh this year but none spoke to me as much as Daniel Kitson’s Where Once There Was Wonder. He talked about taking small steps towards a goal and then before you know it the fear has gone and you find yourself on the brink of something new and exciting. The same goes for Danny Wallace’s book Yesman (not the horrendous film… Although it does have Zooey Dechannel (is that her name?) in it). He starts by saying yes to small things that allows him to say yes to big things, moving forward with his life to a happier more fulfilled self.
I have one fear of performing to people, I have regular nightmares about it so decided I’d try to address it by doing a course (naturally..). It may have been the best thing I’ve done. I can’t think of anything worse than being onstage, but tonight I took a small step and performed in front of 4 people I barely knew. A small step. What was really great about how it was done was the course tutor built us up to that moment, from 1 minute (I sweated and trembled through that) to 3 minutes (better but still nervy) to 6 minutes (still nervy but less fearful). Small steps building up. The first two I hated doing, but by the third, about 3 mins in I felt almost comfortable.
So maybe any fear can be overcome in small steps. It’s early days though…
(This was meant to have a rounded point with an uplifting ending and a great narrative arc and structure. Sorry I’m quite tired.)