When I was growing up, I wanted to be a vet. I also wanted to be an astronaut, chef, actress, comedian, artist and rock n’ roll singer. I had some lofty goals. In high school, I would see other people showcase their talents and always think they were so much better than me. I honestly never thought I was smart enough to be a writer. I couldn’t help but compare myself to others. Imposter syndrome lived deep inside my mind. Sometimes it would even stop me from trying. Who would ever want to hear what I had to say? I’m not smart enough. Talented enough. Pretty enough. Enough.
At moments, I’d find the courage. I’d break out of my “you could never” shell and expose my true magic. Stand in front of a crowded bar and connect with a room full of people was the ultimate high. Performing standup comedy for people and seeing what you say resonate with them. Creating moments of laughter together. It’s powerful. I know I say that I don’t do standup comedy anymore, but if you were to hand me a mic and a stage, I would get up there in a heartbeat. Random open mics are fun in all their awkward glory. I adore everyone out there performing.
I used to write my own material, but I’ll just say it was less than groundbreaking. Usually, I would do a couple of written jokes, then focus on improv crowd work the rest of my set. I loved the spontaneous feeling of riffing with the crowd. I loved it so much I didn’t bother to continue honing my writing skills, but man I could kill just by chatting up a room.
As my relationship with comedy and performing on stage began to fade, my family life was blossoming. I gave birth to my daughter and fully threw myself into mom mode. In my mind, the comedian side of me had died and the creative mom side was born. Then the pandemic hit and the entire world stood still, or at least it felt like it. The pause allowed me to connect more with family, but also with myself. I realized that my love of comedy was still strong, but my fear of writing had stopped me from truly growing as a creative. I had so many things to say, stories to tell, and feelings to share with people, but my lack of knowledge and structure held me back.
My close friend was part of a writers group and we would often talk about his experiences with writing. I began to crave it in my own life and, at the age of 40, I finally realized that my fear was unnecessary. I had proven with my standup that I could engage an audience and tell a great story, I just needed to learn a new set of tools.
I started taking screenwriting classes. I’m lucky enough to have found a group of writers who are supportive and badass. They remind me that no matter what level of writer you are, when you start a project or script, everyone is a beginner. I would feel that if I hadn’t started something, I shouldn’t bother since I was already behind everybody else, like I was losing a race. It’s not a race though, we are always beginning in some way. Everyone’s path is different. Simple enough to remember and simple enough to forget.
Don’t think about the possible outcomes of trying, just take the risk.
And turn off social media.