Thursday, April 6, 2017

Social Anxiety

Hi. I have social anxiety. I don't like talking about the details of what that means for me. I can only say that it is real and affects my life, and directly hinders my progress in going forward with what I want to do professionally (comedy). Now. I know that you also have social anxiety. I know this because every single person I have ever met in my entire life has told me that they are also "shy" or "antisocial". Like, every single person. (Obviously, only if the subject came up.) I'm pretty sure my sister is the only person I have ever known to be like “Yeah, talking to people is easy. Something is wrong with you." Love you, Mikela! This phenomenon of everyone ever telling me how awkward they are is like if everyone was telling a heroin addict, "I totally get it. I have also done drugs." Obviously, my problems are not comparable to a heroin addict's problems! But the disparity between experiences, are also not really comparable, but sort of? The point is, depending on who it's coming from and my perception of their social prowess, it can be annoying.

Here's the thing. No one is being disingenuous. No one is wrong about how they feel. Everyone IS awkward, I promise. What helped me, though, was seeing a more extreme aspect of it. Next Wednesday is my 6 year anniversary of doing stand-up, and these are the steps that brought me to my current level of success of being booked on FOUR shows this weekend (spoiler alert: this is a promo post).

1. 2011. I wanted to do stand-up, but the concept of me doing stand-up seemed as laughable as one of my classic, killer bits of today.

2. I went through what felt like a million hoops to get to a psychiatrist who would give me medication. It was not easy, especially for someone who can't use a phone (if you're not sure what I mean by that, great news, you are not antisocial.)

3. The psychiatrist recommended social anxiety group therapy, which sounded like an oxymoron. Why the fuck would I ever go to something with "group" in the name? I started taking Prozac, started feeling better, agreed to group therapy.

4. Went to social anxiety group therapy, and for the first time, saw myself in other people. These were REAL "heroin addicts". Of course I had met people who were like me before. But it was significant to enter a room of 8-10 people where no one spoke to each other or even looked up when a new person entered. People who could not get up and close the blinds to get the sun out of their face because they had already sat down and didn't want to draw attention to themselves (this came up for multiple people as a very recent example of anxiety when the teacher asked us for one. The sun was coming in at a real bad angle that day, and none of us did shit, and it fucking made sense to me). These were people who would accept physical, emotional, financial inconveniences in order to avoid talking on a telephone.

5. So anyway, it was really helpful and led to me being capable of doing stand-up. I stopped going because I felt I had accomplished what I had initially set out to do. I liked the group and what it did for me. I fucking loved all of the people who were in the group, and you better believe we did NOT keep in touch because are you even paying attention. I also began to feel like a fraud in the group because I was doing something that would seem absurd to them, as it did to myself a few months earlier. I didn't want them to view me the way I view people who regularly go to parties telling me how shy they are.

And again, you ARE shy. I believe you. It's ok. But there are radically different levels to it. We might be pretty similar. Like, if we definitely know each other, and are frequently in the same place, but never say hi or make eye contact, I think you are great. Let’s never change.

I certainly have good days. Often enough, I can get by and pass as comfortable. But if we are not “friends” and have had a normal, breezy conversation for longer than 5 minutes, hope this isn’t weird, but that was a HUGE deal for me. It doesn’t happen very often.

Comedy, and entertainment in general, is largely reliant on networking. People in the comedy community are constantly networking over their hatred of networking. I actually understand and see the value in networking, and don’t think it’s a bad thing. I know the behavior people are thinking of when they say they hate it, but from my perspective, networking is literally just showing up places and talking to people, and doing that accomplishes way more than you probably even realize. I do not show up places and talk to people as often as I need to.

And that is why 4 shows in 4 days (originally 5, but 1 was cancelled!) is a monumental event for my See Ya L.A.Tour!!

Tonight! I’ll be in Ventura doing What’s Up With Merlot? An Evening with Matt Kirshen. Ryan and Doug are also coming along, and last time we did this show together (with Travis as well) was the night we decided to end Sleepaway Camp. What will we decide to put to an end to tonight!?!

Friday! Red Carpet Comedy w/ The Bateman Cousins S2 April Fools Show! This is going to be a big, wonderful show, and it is very nice of them to have me!

Two shows Sunday! First, 2 Wet Crew at The Satellite with my old Sleepaway friend Jay Weingarten! He is great, and I’m looking forward to seeing him and his show!

But then, I have to leave right away for Chatterbox in Covina. More on that LATER.

Wow. What a weekend. 4 shows, and only 2 of them spelled my name wrong on the flyer! That’s pretty good! Hope to see you around at one of them! See ya later! See Ya L.A.Tour.

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