How To Improve (In A World Filled With Self Doubt)


We take ourselves for granted and assume ourselves as the tofu standard all the world revolves around. People, things, and places, are compared to us and our lives. Is this place cold(er than the place I was raised?) Is this class dumb(ly difficult to me so I’ll dismiss it?)

Whatever it is, we take ourselves as the center, which good, fine, I get it. But the problem with that is, to simplify our calculus, we see ourselves as more constant than variable. That’s because improving can be scary. Improving means admitting your failures, your flaws, and facing that precipice of acknowledgement, it can be easier to flee from it instead.

It’s quite simple. To avoid improvement means preserving a faint, false glimmer of perfection.

You ever wonder why I don’t spellcheck? The comments do. That’s not because I’m lazy (though I am that) but because not spell-checking or editing in any thorough way allows me to rush a piece out before fear or shyness reels it back in. It also allows me to have things both ways. Did you like it? Of course you did! I worked hard on it! Didn’t like it? I get to scoff, smirk and smile and remind myself that I was holding back.

It’s an excuse, and a crutch but it’s a natural method of coping. Writing or performing in any public way can be scary. If I were to edit, really write, really focus, I’d have a better piece but I’d have no excuses. I’d have no safety net, and if my work wasn’t as good as I’d wanted, as I’d hoped, I’d be broken.

With no excuses, there’s no mercy. If I failed, the starkness would be plain and obvious.

I’m writing this because you’re the same way. Everyone is. And that casual self sabotage you do isn’t unique, or shocking, or poetic or awful. It just kind of is. But I’ve got good news.

You can improve. And you will.

Look, if you were a simple doofus, unfettered by pride or fear, this could all be so simple. You’d want to know more about directing, and you’d take a class. You’d read a book. You’d learn, without judgement or panic, and simply improve.

So do it.

Easier said than done, but just remember that growth, step by step, is growth still. Any step is infinitely more than one. Don’t get spooked or scared by the perceived gaps between where you are and where you want to be, and don’t fear acknowledging it. Instead, lummox up and just doofus your way to improvement.

Doing it is the best way to learn; simple, pedestrian pursuit and repetition. It worked for getting toilet trained, right? Or sports? Or putting in your contact lenses? Those, though, are mundane, simple tasks that we take for granted. How, though, could something as pedestrian as practice or time lead to improvement in the field you care about?

I’ll wait.

Artistic endeavors carry with them a serious, intimidating aura. It’s a mix of push and pull: the same aura that electrifies us, charges us towards them can create a field of awe around them. Art can feel mystical, inaccessible because of your love. If it’s thorough and deep, you’ll feel protective of it. You won’t want to sully; you’ll avoid eye-contact, belittling yourself as though that would enhance the art you love so much.

I’m telling you that’s dumb. It’s normal, it’s common, but it’s dumb. That should be freeing, first and foremost, so be free. Okay? No more hangups. Edit. Submit. Do what you want to because at the end of the day, you can and you should. Be a doofus and a lummox and check your auras and reflections to just do what you love so much. Art can take it! There are worse people than you with far more confidence. It has had worse lovers than you.

You can do this.