Tuesday night! April 16th, 2013. It was a night that marked a moment in time for me! A moment I will not soon forget, if ever. As I sat in the front row, my name was introduced and I took the stage of the world famous Laugh Factory in Chicago to perform stand-up comedy. I stood in the very spot where people like Robin Williams, George Carlin, and Jim Carey have performed and made people laugh.
This night, or any night, to have the chance to perform stand-up comedy for a live audience has been on my bucket list for many years. I am not necessarily a person that likes to have the spot light on them, so to get up in front of others to perform is a little out of my comfort zone. Granted that this particular night was made a bit easier because, among some strangers, this night included dozens of my friends and fellow writers here at Chicago Now.
Looking back at my life pre and post transition, this night would have never happened a few years ago prior to making the change. Standing up in front of strangers would never have happened. I was a shy, introverted distant person. I never wanted the spot light on me so standing up in front of people to do comedy would have been a HUGE stretch for me back then.
But now, boy oh boy have things changed. Now that the world has access to my story, my history, who I use to be, it has given me the freedom to live on MY terms. It has given me the courage to take risks. It has taught me that risks are good and I have many, many people behind me and they are there to encourage and support me. (Though jumping out of a plane or taking a zip lining 350 feet above the ground may still be more than I want to tackle right now.)
Taking the stage at the Laugh Factory sets another milestone in my new life. I took the stage and talked freely about being transgender, making jokes about some of the crazy things that have happened to me during this transformation from man to woman. I wrote a few months ago about the preparation for this night and the struggles I was going through. But now that I have taken those steps to do something I have never done before – damn! It feels good.
As I rode the train from the Western Burbs with my best friend and as we grew closer to the performance time, she grew increasingly nervous. I admire each and every one of the other 26 bloggers who had the guts to get up in front of everyone and perform! For many, including my friend, strength and a sheer will came from deep with in to conquer that fear they were experiencing. And conquer that fear they did and I could be more proud of Tara – she nailed her performance. For me, I would have normally been a nervous wreck right along side her, but tonight was different, very different.
I didn’t even realize why until I got home in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Even I was surprised at how calm I actually was. I sat my computer typing out this blog post when it hit me. I wasn’t nervous, wasn’t scared or petrified for one reason. I had already taken the biggest risk of my life just over three years ago.
I risked everything to change my life . . . to live out who I knew I was inside. I risked my job, my friends and I risked my family.
Tonight, what did I risk? How could I fail at being myself? Sure there was the potential that my jokes may not have be as funny as I would want, but seriously, what did I risk? Nothing! I walked up those steps, took the microphone in my hand and had FUN! I went there and was nothing more than being myself on stage.
So, Tonight in a nutshell;
To know that I owned my performance – pretty cool.
To know that fear held me back for way too long – liberating!
To be invited back for open mic night in front of a regular audience – A challenge accepted.
AND . . . .
To know that I took that stage with pride in who I am – Priceless . . . . and totally freaking AWESOME!
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