When people draft their start of the year resolutions, they frequently ask themselves, “Who do I want to be in the New Year?” And the answer to that question usually ends up being some unrecognizable creature, who either is/or fucks Beyoncé. This year, I’m turning to my vague understanding of a main principle of social work, for assistance; “start where your client is”: Assess their strengths and weaknesses, and goal set accordingly. Meaning that if you’re 35, can’t sing, and couldn’t move after the one Beyography* class you took last year, you are going to have to slow your role, and lower your expectations to a Michelle Williams.
I am a perfectionist which, if you’re not familiar with the non-job interview definition of the word, sounds like a humble brag. But it’s actually something that makes tasks like a list of resolutions, difficult to complete. My perfectionism is why this new year’s blog entry is coming out
so close to in February. Feeling both paralyzed and motivated by the fear of making mistakes has made me not so much of a “Quit while you’re ahead” type, and more of a “Wait for imminent disaster, set the building on fire, and assume a new identity” type. But much like arson, problem avoiding tends to blow up in our faces, and accidentally hurt innocent people.
So I’ve decided to set my new year’s resolutions to the question, “Who do I not want to be?” If I could only save parts of my personality from a burning building, which parts of myself would I allow to evaporate in a cleansing blaze? To those who think that it’s crazy to set goals in such a negative framework, please remember that it’s important to start where your client lives.
I’m not trying to light my WHOLE life on fire… I’m just trying to set achievable goals, that won’t make me feel like a failure the moment I slip up. Because it’s not about a deadline, it’s about habit building… Just skin grafting good habits, over the charred remains of my former self…
#1 Go To The Gym… Once
I don’t hate my body, but I feel unhealthy. In 2012 I started to volunteer-teach a fake Zumba class at the YMCA called “Arriba” (Way to avoid copyright infringement laws YMCA). My gym buddy and I would come up with sexy routines that were vaguely Latin, and then we’d coach senior citizens to gyrate their way into a hip replacement.
I miss this guy so much!
Teaching Arriba led to me being in the best shape of my entire life. I kept this up for almost 2 years… And then I had to let it go so that I could commit to comedy, and a mental breakdown.
Since retiring my YMCA volunteer jersey, I have not set foot in a gym. I have a bad habit of not wanting to do something, unless I can do it the exact “right” way… But that method of thinking has stopped me from reaching too many milestones. So in order to break this cycle, I’m challenging myself to go to the gym at least once this year… I have no idea if this will help… But it can’t hurt at this point. Also, I should drink water.
#2 Learn To Say No Sometimes
Time management = Figuring out who to disappoint.
— Aisha Brown (@Aieeesha) November 24, 2015
I perform several nights a week as a comic, and sometimes I get paid for it… Often in food and drink, because I’m a pretty big deal. My need to fill the middle child hole in my heart with laughter and approval, got me into this game. It’s also the reason I’ve said yes to a lot of comedy offers that were obviously a waste of everybody’s time. Usually, I was able to extract a lesson from a negative experience; and only rarely was I working on a kinky themed comedy show, for a man who turned out to be a convicted rapist/magician (Unfortunately, not joking). Despite how seriously grateful I am for my lucky breaks in comedy; 2016 needs to be the year I say no to a few things:
- Like when somebody messages me out of the blue and asks, “Hey stranger, can you do this small town festival you’ve never heard of, where you’ll be resented if you remind the audience that you’re Black and a woman?” NO THANKS!
- Or when I’m asked, “Hey, I’m not going to pay you, or compensate you for gas, but can you drive some comics you don’t know to Waterloo, for 5 minutes of stage time, so that I can make money and awkward small talk with you?” FUCK NO!
- And lastly, “Hey, I really like your comedy, any chance I can show you my dick?” DRAKE! ENOUGH ALREADY!
#3. Don’t Always Assume It’s My Own Fault
(People say a real therapist would never do this… But I would have taken a hug from Robin Williams, over Cognitive Behavioural Therapy any day.)
This might be the hardest one for me. I reflexively believe everything is my fault. It’s a total form or narcissism to believe that I am the cause of everybody’s negative effect.
- If people are in a bad mood around me, I compulsive wonder what I did to upset them (Turns out repeatedly asking people “Are you mad at me?”, makes them mad at you).
- If a guy I like stops messaging me, I assume that time I stood in bad lighting was my demise… If only I’d been more careful about tilting my head in a constantly flattering, 37° angle.
- When a friend misses a deadline, I wonder if I distracted them, or if my procrastination and bad energy was contagious.
There aren’t enough “It’s not your fault” hugs left in the world to cure me of my neurotic, self absorbed overthinking. But in 2016 I’ll commit to not assuming that every comic who acts awkwardly around me, either hates me or is upset with me… Comics are often socially awkward weirdos, who are in their own heads a lot. I for sure am! If I remember this a few times this year, instead of casually trying to test the waters with a person who regularly avoids eye contact with women… Success! Also, sometimes terrible people will hate you, and that’s a blessing.
#4 When It Is My Fault, Step Away From The Matches
I’ve been setting fire to my problems since I was a child. I used to hide all of my report cards, for the immediate relief of skirting my dad’s wrath. I literally set fire to one once. But failing entire subjects has a way of resurfacing; especially when your teachers know to call your dad directly. Somehow, the added time and poorly planned lies always made the consequences way worse. Hidden report cards were like an uneaten ham sandwich you didn’t want your teacher to see, so you hid it in your bag to go out at recess. But instead of throwing it in the garbage later, you brought it home and hid it under your bed… And eventually the stench of the rotten sandwich alerted your parents to your initial deception….I still can’t eat ham sandwiches.
So in 2016 I am going to address the biggest fire I set in 2015. I am going to call all, ( Or some), of my friends who I’ve been too scared to talk to all year. I assumed they wouldn’t understand that sometimes I don’t call or message, because I’m too depressed/anxious to get out of bed and be social. And sometimes, I’m a real shitbag, and I don’t call because the selfish determination I’ve committed to while pursuing a career in comedy, is all consuming. Truthfully, I’m embarrassed by how I’ve acted, but I miss my pre-comedy friends. So I have to do this, or face a lifetime with friends who are exclusively comics/as fucked up as I am.
#5 Post On Social Media Like Nobody Is Following You… Because They Aren’t!
Nobody cares about this tweet.
“When M’lady walks in with a corseted waist, and a bustle in your face…” – Louisa May Alcott pic.twitter.com/B6G1DSjCM2
— Aisha Brown (@Aieeesha) February 1, 2016
I hesitate to promote shows, I hesitate to tweet, and I won’t/can’t post on Instagram (My phone sucks and I hate the medium). Social media feels incredibly unnatural to me. I didn’t grow up with it, and I enjoy the concept of sharing a fleeting thought, as opposed to a future P.R nightmare. To be honest, I assume people will get sick of me if I inundate them with my jokes, or the shows I’m on, or my feelings on world events. To summarize, I fear judgement, and I overthink like a muthafuka. (I always thought overthinking was a concept guys I dated coined, to help their casual sex odds.)
But I don’t think I can continue to grow in comedy if I give in to this fear, and constantly restrain myself. I certainly can’t promote shows and projects, or network… Which I hear is somewhat essential for a career in entertainment… Even Canadian entertainment. So this year, I’ll be less cautious. I’ll put my thoughts and feelings out into the world with less caution, and more conviction… Because none of it actually matters; which I find comforting. Besides, the world needs gems like these:
Microwaving apple juice & cinnamon cuz bitch want some cider inside her. #CiderMouthRules
— Aisha Brown (@Aieeesha) November 17, 2014
Thanks for reading this, if you did. And good luck with your own resolutions if you made some. And if you didn’t, way to not cave to society’s expectations (Get over yourself).
*Beyography is actually a ton of fun, that I highly recommend!