When I was a preschool teacher and felt frustrated at work, I would think, “Well, at least I have comedy”. And when I was frustrated with comedy, I would think, “Well, at least I have teaching”. But I thought this way every day at work, and every night at comedy, so clearly I didn’t feel like I “had” either.
It’s great that I have several passions. I love comedy, I love writing, and I love education. If one facet of my life isn’t going the way I want it to, I have other things. But what happens when I feel like a failure in all three of my pursuits? Does it hurt three times as much as it would otherwise?
I spend a lot of time with comedians, and for the vast majority of them, comedy is their thing. They say it’s all they’re good at, and they don’t want to do anything else with their lives. I also spend a lot of time with educators, and education is their thing. It’s the only thing they’ve ever had an interest in, and they’re willing to invest money and time to ensure that they succeed at it. I can’t help but feel like a fraud when I hang out with both groups. I have options. It’s not comedy or the highway…but honestly, maybe there’s a lot of money in highway construction. Sure, I’m not amazing at anything, but I’m mediocre at a lot, and Cs get degrees.
Sometimes I read books about serial killers to feel better about where I am with my goals. But then I remember they did exactly what they wanted to with life, and were good enough at it to do it more than once. Serially. So back to feeling like shit.
I recently got accepted into a Master’s in Special Education program, and felt like I finally knew what I wanted out of life. But I attended the orientation where everyone loved education, and only education. There was no one who was like, “Well, I’m only going into teaching if my astronaut career doesn’t pick up.”
While the professors were going through PowerPoints, and students were asking questions about classes, requirements, and student life, I only wanted to ask how strict the attendance policy was. Their answer was, “Well, this is school… so we expect you to come.” So inconsiderate. What if I got asked to be an extra in a local TV show, or something equally exciting and career-altering? What if Maury wanted to know if I was the mother?
While the other students were thinking about their 5-year teaching plan, I couldn’t help but wonder how this program would set my comedy career back.
Instead of taking notes, I just wrote “comedy” on my handouts the entire orientation. Yes, part of the motivation behind this was so that I could get a good picture of my commitment to comedy for social media, but it wasn’t a dishonest representation of my thoughts. I ended up deferring my acceptance so Future Lindsay would have to make the decision I didn’t want to make.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m only 1/3 as good at the things I do as I would be if 2/3 of my heart weren’t elsewhere. But also, I shouldn’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it. I’ll venture to say no industry truly has someone who is the best in that field, and even if they did, that doesn’t mean everyone who isn’t #1 doesn’t contribute anything. The world would be in a lot of trouble if we only had one doctor.
This is all coming after a night of feeling unaccomplished. It’s hard for me to focus on myself after my mind puts on a three-hour parade of all the people who are better than me, in alphabetical order: Jenny A., Jenny J., Jenny P… I don’t know why all of the people who are better than me in this scenario are named Jenny. It was like the Cubs parade of 2016, except all the players were Jenny, and I was the only one watching.
Most days I question my loyalty to comedy. If I’m not the best, then what am I? Jenny A. is better than me, Jenny J. is better than me, and Jenny P. is better than me. So what’s the point? But I guess Jenny will need an opening act one day, and I’d rather it be me than another Jenny.
Filed under: Stand-up Comedy