Here’s Seamus in his own inspiring words:Starting this is tough. I’ve never been good at talking about myself but I think I’m getting better at it? I’m getting better at it? I’m better at it. Yes. I’ve dealt with anxiety for years. I think my first panic attack was when I was 14. If you’ve never had one, you are a blessed human. If you have had one, (you think) you know what it feels like to almost die. You weren’t going to. But that’s anxiety. To combat that feeling, I’ve always guarded myself against rejection. I only offer vulnerability to a reserved few and saying “no” to people is about as difficult as understanding where Kat gets her wonderful improvised lyrics from. Playing it safe became a default mode of operation for me. Risk of failure would be minimized; self-preservation, maximized. Music has always been my favorite medium for self-expression. I play a mediocre guitar, love to sing along with the emo greats, and am confident that I am in the top 1% of steering wheel drummers in America. My most spectacular dreams involve me, on a stage, making music and belting it out – and hopefully someone in the crowd to care. So when my therapist challenged me last year to do an open mic night and I laughed in her face at the absurdity of such a suggestion, the incompatibility between my greatest ambitions and my approach to the world became undeniably apparent. To lean into the fears that bombarded me when considering performance in front of an audience, she suggested I try an Improv class. I agreed. This seemed a fun way to practice being in the spotlight without exposing myself on too personal a level. Of course, I was wrong. Level 1 (thank you, Shawn!) was 14 of the most nerve-wracking hours of my life. Bunny-Bunny made me cringe. 5 Things made my head spin. My Fingers Have Been: none of your damn business! But I was doing it. And some strangers around me were doing it. And we kept coming back each week. And that was cool. Somewhere in Level 2 (thank you, Vanessa! (twice)), class shifted from being a means to getting comfortable on a stage to the most joy I felt all week. The focus wasn’t on the end result or how funny or clever you were. The focus was on the current moment, and who you shared it with; what was just said, and how it made us feel; listening hard, and taking care of your partner. I was watching the most wonderful people embrace uncertainty, grow beyond their perceived limitations, and support the shit out of each other, having been total strangers just a few weeks or days or hours or even minutes ago. That wasn’t happening anywhere else in my life. That is easily the greatest gift I’ve received from this art and this theater: watching and learning and trying and failing with all of you. It’s been life-changing. And pretty fucking hilarious. I wish I could say that, thanks to Improv, I am now supreme ruler of my nerves. I’m not. Honestly, I’m experiencing anxiety about this “spotlight.” What will people think? Will I regret what I’ve said? Did I really just talk about a split-house sorting during 5 Things? Well shit, I guess I did. I do know, though, that the last 7 months of Improv have made me feel more confident that I can handle it. And I am happier. And I’m excited to keep going. So, thanks. Thank you for being a part of that with me. And thanks for letting me be a part of that with you.
Watch the video to learn more about Seamus:
This article is part of the Community Spotlight Series highlighting our amazing students, teachers, and performers.
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