Inspiration for this post comes from a video in which Tony Robbins helps a man to stop stuttering. I wanted to apply the same psychiatry on myself to see what I could discover. I just needed the right question…
Tonight, I was on the balcony, taking in the lightning show. I love being out on the balcony in the summer, but rainy days are extra special.
I listened to a Sam Harris guided meditation session entitled, ‘Looking for the Self‘ and, with my eyes closed, seemed to plunge forward into space. I opened my eyes when I felt the g-force exerting on my chest, calmed down, and then closed my eyes again. This time, I was determined to keep my eyes closed.
The next time it came, I was ready and went for the ride. I went through. On the other end, I felt confidently calm.
A question’s been bothering me ever since I started my comedy career: What’s so bad about being embarrassed that causes me to shy away from performing stand-up comedy? With the confidence I felt in my blood, instead of shying away from the question, I asked myself, for the first time SERIOUSLY asked myself,
Q: Why’s it so bad to be embarrassed? When’s the first time you felt embarrassed?
A: The first time I felt embarrassed was when I peed my pants during the family portraits. We were in the middle of the shoot and my mom had to dry my pants before we could resume shooting.
Q: But what’s so bad about being embarrassed? That people will reject me? What’s so bad about people rejecting me?
A: Incidentally, I also peed my pants in grade 7. Yup, that’s right: grade fucking 7. And you wanna know when I peed my pants in grade 7? AT THE END OF THE FUCKING YEAR PARTY. Yup, that’s right. So guess who had the WHOLE SUMMER to agonize over what was gonna happen when the entire school found out that I peed my pants?
So, it’s September, and I get off the bus. I’m scared shitless (sorry, had to go for it). I walk up to the front door, and one of my friends remarks, ‘Hey, it’s PeePants!’ LMAO. That’s actually pretty goddamn funny, PeePants. And my worst fears are seeming to come true. But then people eventually find out, and you know what? They don’t really care. They don’t give a shit.
Q: What’s so bad about people rejecting me? Why do I need their love? What’s so bad about losing their love? What’s so bad about losing love itself? When was the first time I felt rejected?
A:Ahhhh…my dad not lifting me up…I’ll explain. When I was a child, I used to love when my dad would lift me up. That’s how I knew he loved me, and that’s when I felt most loved.
One day, we were coming back from doing errands or something, and he began walking up the stairs. He was about four tenths of the way up, and I asked him to come down, lift me up, and take me up the stairs in his arms.
He said, ‘C’maaaaan, come up stairs.’ And with that, he turned his back, and continued to walk upstairs. Feeling rejected, I began to cry. I begged him to carry me up the stairs. He didn’t come down, not a single step. That was the ultimate form of rejection, to go from doing the thing that made me felt loved the most to (seemingly at the time) never doing it again.
But he wasn’t rejecting me. He was teaching me to stand on my own two feet and be a man. To be responsible. And fuck was I ever responsible. I had a paper route by the time I was eleven and paid virtually everything after that with other jobs. Consequently, as I got older, I looked at him and thought, ‘Hey motherfucker, you ain’t done NOTHING for me. I got ALL this shit on my own.’
And, partly, I think, that’s exactly the man he wanted to create. Old school fathers don’t required their children’s love; only their respect and obedience. I grew up to a T how he wanted me to grow up. To be smart, like him. To be easygoing, like him. He molded me into his own image. A responsible, intelligent man. When he didn’t pick me up, he didn’t reject me; he was loving me. He was teaching me to be a man.
Q: And what if the crowd doesn’t love you? What would their rejection mean?
A: It might mean the rejection of your art, or of you, but what of it? The public’s love can never be true love, love worth having, because the public cannot love YOU, they can only love the IDEA of you, and that doesn’t have anything to do with WHO YOU TRULY ARE.
The love of the people that know you the most and care for you the most (for the right reasons, of course) is the most important thing, and you can never lose that. YOU CAN NEVER LOSE THAT. YOU CAN NEVER LOSE THE LOVE OF THE PEOPLE THAT LOVE YOU THE MOST. YOU CAN NEVER LOSE WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT.
So get out there. It doesn’t matter how they respond. I can never lose true love. It’s always there. I can feel my dad’s love for me in my heart. I can never lose that.
You can never lose that, either.
Q:But if people don’t love me, won’t I eventually fail as a comedian?
A:No. People will eventually love funny. That’s all you need to worry about. Funny gets through every time. If you’re funny, you don’t need ANYONE ELSE.
None of this means, by the way, that you shouldn’t avoid embarrassment (i.e. in front of grandma, etc.). Don’t apply the prudence of avoiding embarrassment too broadly. It’s good to avoid embarrassment where appropriate.
But embarrassment, true embarrassment, the loss of love of those who you love the most, can never, EVER happen. Don’t apply the fear of losing the love of the people you love the most with losing the love of the public. Don’t apply that fear where it doesn’t apply. The ability to discriminate between people, things, and situations is the height of all intelligence.
Having the public’s love would be nice; not having it is not the end of the world. They don’t know what they want to love anyway; some Thought Leader tells them who they should love and they love. The same Thought Leader tells them to hate the person they were told to love, so they hate.