Thursday, November 5, 2009

"The Chokes"

So what does Howard Moon, man about town, have to do with my fail blog? In series 3, episode 6 of British comedy The Mighty Boosh, Howard implores his friend and co-worker Vince Noir to squeeze him on the bill of a show that the latter is coordinating. Howard is especially insistent on taking the stage as an actor this particular evening, the motivation being that an idol of his - avant garde film director Jurgen Haabermaaster - will be in the audience. Vince initially decides not to make scheduling accommodations for Howard because of a problem referred to as "the chokes." Upon hearing Vince merely speak the word "audition," Howard's muscles go rigid, rendered speechless and motionless from the terror he experiences when attempting to act in front of people.

-"You can't act when other people are in the room. A cheese plant can send you into a panic."

-"Cheese plants can be judgmental."

As someone who has never had a problem in front of an audience in a theatrical context, who couldn't care less about belting out some kitschy 80's tune or another during karaoke night in a crowded bar, a phobia of speaking up in class seems anomalous. For me, something about the academic setting, about placing one's own thoughts on display for the scrutiny of classmates and professors, induces a case of "the chokes" with few exceptions. It is not always so simple as self-trickery - it is not the same as reading a script that someone else wrote, taking on an alternate persona, or singing in front of drunk people. An awareness that more people will perceive me as unintelligent or lazy for lack of input (or obvious apprehension when input is coerced) doesn't do the trick, either. Psychiatric medication helped with the not-giving-a-damn aspect, but was negated by the severe lethargy that accompanied it. A lot of good that does when you don't make it to class, because you nodded off in your chair after drinking an entire pot of black coffee. Getting over oneself, while admittedly not impossible, is not as simple as the phrase implies. All going to pose the question: what can be done?

Maybe learning computer language (and finally taking the dreaded student loan to return to square one in a new field) wouldn't be a bad idea... At this point, primary interactions with machines rather than other people, and logic based communication via code as opposed to the often overt subjectivity of theoretical musings sounds like a reasonable and potentially sanity-saving goal.

I don't know.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps it is something that will pass with practice, or you will learn to function beautifully despite any inevitable apprehension. I remember when I started playing music/singing in front of people. I would freeze up, laugh, stop playing, be embarrassed. But after doing it for a while, and even though severe nervousness still accompanies any of my shows, I learned that I can still do the duty despite the physical affect it has on my mind and body.

    I don't know you that well, but I can tell that you have so much more reason to believe in yourself than you allow.

    Career choices are a bitch. I think that's why I'm settling without one.