I did it. I stepped on stage at Second City for my very first time last night and it was 5 minutes of awesome. Yes it was just a teeny little start. I won the – pull your name from the hat – lottery during the “It’s Funny Cuz It’s True” show and got the chance to go up and share one of my stories on the topic of first jobs and I am happy to say that it only made me more committed to make this the first of many times spent up on that stage.
I was so nervous walking into that theater. Everyone seemed to know each other and I always feel so shy around new people so not knowing what else to do I just buried myself in my cell phone pretending to be doing something important, while inside I was secretly wondering why on earth I put myself in these situations in the first place.
My inner dialogue was like “Am I really going to go up there all by myself in front of all these insanely talented people that I don’t really know and share a true story about my life in hopes that it will make them laugh? That is the scariest thing ever. What if they hate me? Or worse, what if I’m boring? Arghhh. I could probably just sneak out right now and they would never know the difference.”
What kept me there was that I knew that I would know, and that there’s no lying to myself about the fact that I came all the way out to LA to finally start sharing me and my material with the people in my industry, to create opportunity for myself to do the things I love, so as scary as these first steps are, I gotta take em. There’s no turning back now.
I switched the chatter in my head to a more positive dial, remembered that I love the story I was prepared to tell if called, and told myself that I just had to trust that it would all come out alright.
So there it was. The show began. I watched as one person after another got up and told hilarious stories about their first jobs, trying not to think about the fact that at any moment that could be me, and then the moment came, the host pulled a name out of the hat and said “next we have…..Holly Payberg” Everybody clapped. There was no turning back.
I got out of my seat thinking “holy shit! This is crazy. This is crazy” as my feet kept moving to the center of that stage, I took a deep breath, turned around to face the crowd and bam…I got blinded by the bright lights blaring down on me and that’s when the unexpected happened, a calmness washed right over me like a wave.
I found I was able to tell my story as if I was in my living room sharing with all my best friends. I took my time, grounded my feet (thank you Yvonne, Christy & Lauren) and just had fun with it. I even made up some new stuff while I was at it.
I was surprised to discover that I felt more focused and comfortable up there than I had felt all day, actually I felt more comfortable up there then I had felt in weeks. How is that possible? And then that’s when it hit me, some of my fondest memories of childhood were when those lights were blasting me in the eyes. Performing was always my happy place. In fact, nothing bothered me when I was performing. So I guess I’m kinda like Pavlov’s dog, the lights hit, and my nervous system just automatically starts to relax.
I can’t figure it all out right now but one thing I know for sure: I am definitely on my way back to my happy place. I just have to keep turning the dial away from the part that tells me it’s too scary.
For those of you that have time to kill, or are looking for excuses to avoid work, here’s the story I told. Its about My First Writing Gig
Otherwise….Have a great day!