There comes a time in everyone’s life (I hope) where you internally ask, “What in the fuck have I done to myself??”. Most often this question gets asked after a 3 day opiate-fueled bender, a bad choice in new paint color, a spontaneous life-altering decision based on a flash moment of inspired thought, or forgetting to take your meds for a few weeks (saying that for a friend HAHAAHA. Ha).
My “what in the fuck have I done to myself?” came just recently after months of digestive crippling anxiety that I could not manage to blame on one certain thing. Then, it hit me. I can’t handle the stage. That may come as a surprise to anyone who knows what an ultra loud party loving attention whore I am. But it’s true.
When 2016 hit, I made a decision to try things that I know I would regret never doing in my life. No matter how big of a public mishap or personal failure it would be. No matter what dull soul-sucker judged or critizized me. I was going to do it. Because, just..fuck it, you know? I see too many people who are basically just waiting to die so they don’t have to deal with being afraid of their dreams anymore. That won’t be me.
So it was time. The dream for 2016? Trying at least one time, my hand at stand up comedy.
Just so happened it went well! I was actually pretty good at it! At first. Then my demons started creeping in. You know them, right? Mr. You-aren’t-good-enough.. Miss Everyone-hates-you, and the biggest dick of them all, Sir Who-do-you-think-you-are? I hate that asshole.
They all manifest themselves in the forms of anxiety and insomnia and questionable behaviour. For most… not saying that happens to me…. hahaha!! Nope!! Why, who have you been talking to?
After performing at my last show of 2016, I realized I had absolutely nothing else booked… and felt months of knots unravel inside of my gut. There it was; the cause of almost a year of demons. Stage nerves had done me in. But, isn’t this what I thought I needed? Why did I feel even more like an alien while doing something I’ve always thought and been told I was meant for?
I have never fit in anywhere, except for that one place where we all wore the same pyjamas and took our pills at the same time, other than that I think I lost my spaceship sometime soon after my first birthday. To feel like you have never belonged in this world is a very lonely and frustrating way of being. It is a constant search for yourself, never accepting that who, and where you are is just the way it’s supposed to be.
Comedy has always been an escape route for me. For some reason, I have very little ability to take anything in life seriously. I don’t take life itself seriously. Unless all of a sudden I realize how messy my house is and how badly I need to learn how to master the art of oragami… all else is futile.
A friend and (fellow self-demon battler) I made this past year recently said something that resonated with me. I was hosting a show and having worse and worse anxiety in between sets… doubting myself, punishing myself… losing myself. “Jenn, relax.” He cautions me as if I’m a baby turtle who can’t find my way to the ocean and have lost site of my brothers and sisters on their own way.
“You were booked for this show for one reason. Why was that?”
I look at him with my adorable doe eyes and fabulous haircut and reply with sincerity, “Because, they know me.”
“Exactly. They want to see YOU up there. Not any other version of you, but the one they love. So just be Jenn, and have fun again.”
This guy was obviously a complete psycho. I kept a soft non-threatening eye contact with him as I slowly reached for my boot knife. Just be me? Bat-shit crazy me? Who could love that?
He went on to say, “In this industry, and in life, there are always two paths. The light path, and the dark path. Don’t take that dark path, it’s too easy to fall into and too difficult to get back from. Stay on the light path.”
Something in his non-sensical rambling hit me. I could smell the ocean again. Sense the gentle waves beckoning me into their warm salty comfort.
I went back out there and dropped my avoid-the-cum-shot joke. It worked.
I followed the light path, I followed it all the way home. Home… where my family and true friends are. The ones who know I belong with them, and don’t care that I disagree and try to save them from being destroyed by my hysterical chaos. Home, where I live with four other people who love and accept bat-shit crazy, endless soul-searching, constantly PMSing, weird new project starting, overly-brave, overly-sensitive, one and only me.
It’s not the stage that I let destroy me.
It was not trusting myself, being afraid of myself, not letting myself truly be, that did it.