An identity crisis and out the other side. – By @EllieDag
By Ellie Daghlian
An identity crisis and out the other side.
On day one of SCA, way back in September, Marc gave us all a piece of paper and made us draw a picture.
Something that represents who you are. The essence of your being. He said.
Something hell, said I. And lay on the floor twiddling my sharpie before eventually drawing a sponge. I absorb things, I said when asked.
I later learned people were annoyed by my drawing. Apparently I wasn’t open enough for them. They didn’t appreciate it.
Well I might have looked like I wasn’t taking it seriously, but I wasn’t trying to be a dick. I just didn’t know the answer.
People buy people. Marc said. It’s all about character.
But I didn’t know how to draw my soul in 1 minute and 30 seconds.
So was I unemployable?
No matter how hard I worked. How good my work was. Did none of it matter if I didn’t have this incredible personality. This what? Charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent? The ability to make the room fall in love with me, or a distinctive essence that could be summed up in an image?
Squirrel licked my face as the fear set it.
As the weeks go on at SCA, this essence of your being malarky doesn’t go away.
The pressure to be you. To somehow know who that is, and to express in pictures, taglines, gifs and jokes follows you through every single relentless week.
And while other people were apparently embarking on voyages of self discovery, I felt like my essence was withering away. Paling into nothing under the glaring light of Marc’s character hunt.
There were so many people in the room with big, bold characters. They could put themselves in a sentence and the world would know it was them. And who was I? Absolutely no one. An astoundingly average in every way, brown haired, brown eyed, just loud enough when needed introvert.
Then, Marc made us do stand up comedy. And I don’t know if all comedy is like this, or if he’d put in a special word to make sure the who-you-are-saga never took a break, but it was, surprise surprise, all about who we were.
The comedy course starts with the rest of the room telling you how you come across.
At last! My foolish heart hoped. Answers!
Turns out my defining personality traits are as follow. Smiley. Precise. Relatable. Well spoken. Clear. Boring. Boring. Boring. Boring. Boring. Boring.
We’re meant to take those traits and turn them into a character we can exaggerate on stage.
Now I guess I could have covered myself clown makeup and spoken like the queen, and in hindsight there probably is a campaign in that, but in a world of people buy people it’s not making me feel spectacularly good about my chances in the job market.
A week before the showcase, I came home and sobbed to my bewildered boyfriend that I had absolutely no character, was the most average person on the planet and why the hell was he even with me.
And then. I don’t know what happened. I think I just crises-ed myself out. I had to do the showcase because if I didn’t it meant I couldn’t and that’s not a concept I can get my head around.
So on Saturday I wrote my set. And on Sunday morning I filled my thankfully empty flat with my jokes and the laughs of an imaginary audience.
And then I went to Bethnal Green and I wasn’t even nervous, so much as filled with absolute dread. What was I doing. Who did I think I was. It was just the most terrible idea anyone had ever had.
The only other time I’ve felt dread like that was before my interview at SCA.
And, just like reading my poem on that interview day, it was amazing. Exhausting. I stood on a stage blinded by lights in a room full of people laughing(??) at jokes I was telling. I want to go back and do it again and again and again. Stand up comedy. How completely mental that that’s something I have done??
I’m so glad I got to see everyone else’s routines. Rachael, you’re so effortlessly cool. Marley, you don’t need advertising, just go be a pro. Dean we need to lock you up, but your fellow convicts are in for a treat. Tommy, SO many long words and every one of them was funny?? Eva, don’t kill your Grandma. Munraj, I live for Simran heckling you. Alfie, you were made for the stage. Sam – baby owls! Oliver, put the oil away. Ivan, you tell those Maga hats. And literally everyone: hwow.
And call me an idiot but five minutes of that and my identity crisis is over? My name’s Ellie, I’m from Berkhamsted, bit of a perfectionist. Not that open, but these 800 words make me think I’m getting better. I’m incredibly confident in groups of six and under. I’m a big sister. I take a while to warm up but if I let you in you’re probably stuck with me. I’m impulsive and emotional and I overthink everything. I still can’t put it in a picture, but I know who I am.