Guestpost #41: Alex Baird – Ten things I’ve learned during the past (and arguably the best) twelve months of my life

Alex is an ITC improviser, and a former teammate of mine! Here is her ITC bio:

  1. The domestic dog is an amazing creature. I got my own dog, Harley (a super-adorable Pomeranian/Papillon mix), last April. I give him most of the credit for making 2010 the best year of my life. He’s noisy and troublesome, and he does things that drive me mad, but I wouldn’t change a thing about him.
  2. Longform improv is a beautiful, enigmatic, transformative art form that I respect and love. At about the same time I got Harley, I started taking the 101 course at the Impatient Theatre Company. Improv is the first activity I’ve done in a long time that I feel truly passionate about. When I do badly in an exercise or a scene, instead of wanting to give up on it entirely, I think, I want to try it again. I want to conquer this. That’s very different from my thought processes after most failed challenges.
  3. Losing weight IS possible. I’m still not at my target weight, and I’m still in the “overweight” category according to my BMI, but even the small amount I’ve lost over the past year has made a big difference.
  4. Being part of a team can be a phenomenal experience. When I was assigned to perform in my first ITC student team, Swedish Rhapsody, I was nervous. I’ve always been an introvert, and have never been involved in team sports; I was worried that I wouldn’t live up to my responsibilities as one part of the whole. But I managed it. I learned a crazy amount of wisdom from my coach and my teammates, and I continue to do so as part of my current team. And man, it feels good to be part of something so supportive, so edifying, and so much fun.
  5. Contact lenses are, for me, a godsend. They’ve made me a more confident performer onstage, and I feel freer when I wear them day-to-day than I do when I wear my glasses. Rational? Not at all. It simply is so, for me. One problem: even though they’re clear, they make my eyes look shinier, of which I’m not sure I approve. I feel a little like I’m lying when I wear them. “Hi, I’m Alex, but my eyes aren’t really this sparkly and engaging. Sorry. Didn’t mean to mislead you.”
  6. Meeting members of your extended family (by blood or marriage) is always fascinating. You start to see your immediate family members and yourself as players in an ongoing story, made up of genetic fate and deliberate selection. In another way, it’s similar to a Harold: major themes and little mannerisms alike keep getting called back within the structure of a family tree.
  7. Travel is intoxicating. You learn little things that make the world somehow more complete. I went to San Francisco in October for my sister’s wedding. Even though we were significantly farther north than Hollywood, when I looked over the city from a hillside during a bus tour I realized why Technicolor came to be: it wasn’t just a garish gimmick, it was an exaggerated reproduction of the sunlight in California. Things just look different there. How would you know unless you saw it in person?
  8. You cannot train yourself to become asexual (for lack of a better term). I’ve never experienced a requited crush. That’s annoying enough, but back in 2007 I single-handedly ruined my friendship with a wonderful guy, pretty much because I felt too strongly about him. (I got so confused by my own feelings that I formed the bad habit of speaking without thinking. I did that once too often. He made it clear that he’ll never speak to me again. I spent over two years in remorse and self-loathing.) Many months ago, I made it a project to train myself to never feel more than friendly goodwill towards any man, so I would never again come close to making such a mistake. Ultimately, it just didn’t work. Attractive people remain attractive. These feelings come and go, and it just means you’re a “normal” (we seriously need some better words) adult human. The stronger feelings can really suck while they last, but all you can do is let them lie… and remind yourself of all the sweet little freedoms you enjoy as a single person.
  9. How I’m feeling right now means much more than any of my diagnoses. I’ve been diagnosed with (in chronological order) major clinical depression, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Putting a name to a problem does help—it makes you feel like less of a freak—but on some bad days I do feel like they are labels that define me, and limit what I can do or become. That’s a trap. Live in the moment. Acknowledge your negative feelings, but recognize their ephemerality.
  10. No matter how much you’ve fucked up in your own life, you must at some point forgive yourself. Whether you “deserve” to be forgiven or not is a moot point. Until you trust yourself enough to take the risks you’ll need to take, you cannot move forward and become the better person you want to be. Be kind to yourself.


Filed under tenthingsivelearned, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Guestpost #41: Alex Baird – Ten things I’ve learned during the past (and arguably the best) twelve months of my life

  1. anne corr

    Honest, engaging, and I hope you on to succeed in your endeavours. Good luck.

  2. Jenny

    I love this list! Particularly #9. So much. We are all SO MUCH MORE than the small bundles of neuroses and diseases and sicknesses that might live inside us. They’re not the core of us! Really they’re not!

  3. I love numbers 7 and 8 especially. Seeing the world “in person” is so much better than reading about it or looking at it on TV.

    The crush thing is scary but it does subside if/when you find someone lovely who requites all that passion.

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