Taking a fall
There are three things that most males I’ve met — especially dudes under 25 — just assume they know how to do from the moment they’re born:
- Perform stand-up comedy
Those are three very specific things, yet the list holds true. If you’re a guy, you probably thought you could check off every item on that list when you were a kid. You’d see a stand-up comedian on TV, or a fight scene in a movie, or read a bit of a book at your local Borders and think Well, shit — I can do that.
Thing is, almost no one can do any of those things without training.
We learn we can’t do the first — fighting — if we ever get into a real fight. All it takes is one solid ass-kicking for most of us to realize we’re not the badasses we assumed we were.
We learn we can’t inherently do the second — stand-up comedy — if we ever get up on stage at an open-mic night. The silent crowd and the miniature panic attack as we bomb spectacularly are a quick education.
Only sometimes do we learn from failing that were not born Hemingways or Vonneguts, though. There’s an inborn stubbornness for the first several rejections — it’s always the agent’s bad taste, or the publisher who doesn’t recognize genius.
Reality shows are sparing some of the younger generations from finding out the hard way that they can’t do this stuff, at least for the first two items on the list. Watch Bully Beat-Down if you think you can fight. Watch Last Comic Standing if you think you’re the next Carlin — the contestants on those shows get the shit kicked out of them and bomb miserably so you don’t have to. There’s not a reality show for writers yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Thing is, with training — real, actual training — most of us could be good at any or all of those things we think we’re born knowing how to do. Or if not good, at least proficient enough not to embarrass ourselves.
That’s my message for today. If there’s something you want to do, work at it. Train for it. It takes a lot of effort and time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. It means the opposite.
Get that first beatdown out of the way. Bomb that first time. Get that first rejection. But don’t give up — use that as a basis to start building.
You can only go up from there.
So, got any stories of when you thought you were good at one of the items above and found out otherwise in a spectacularly terrible way? Lord knows I do.