“Oh Sophie, it’s beeeautiful!” I exclaimed, admiring the yellow pipe cleaner wrapped around a ball of aluminum foil attached to my friend’s ring finger.
The audience laughed. I didn’t. I stayed in character.
A few lines later and it was my turn to kick off the song:
“Honey honey, how he thrills me…”
In case you can’t tell, I just got home from music camp.
It’s one of the Western Hemisphere’s best-kept secrets, a place called CAMMAC, nestled on a lake, a few hours outside of Montreal. It’s music camp for adults, kids, teens, everybody, and it’s magical. I went for a week or two every summer growing up, and this year I returned with my mom (who has continued to go year after year). It was Broadway Week and we put on a shortened version of Mamma Mia.
Musical theatre isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I received the “the world needs introverts but on stage you have to GO BIGGER” speech more than once last week. I appreciated being gently pushed and encouraged though. Because at the final concert, when I WENT BIG and nailed my part, I felt awesome. Truly. Like the best thing I’d ever done.
Trying new things as an adult can be scary
CAMMAC is a camp for amateur musicians and there were a lot of older people in the broadway class who were probably more uncomfortable than I was.
I think it gets scarier to try new things as you get older. Kids fumble and we think it’s cute, natural and expected. But as adults, we don’t want to look foolish. Most of us want to stay comfortably within the zones in which we’re adept and accomplished.
The problem is that doing new things and risking looking like an idiot is where the magic lies. Because when you nail it, when you belt out that show tune or launch the website you coded yourself or organize your first festival, you feel alive. Not to mention research shows that doing things you’re bad at (i.e. generalized learning) helps prevent cognitive decline.
Valuing the things that don’t make money
An unfortunate message that most of us receive is that profit = value. Or rather that profitable activities are more valuable than the things we do just for fun.
We need to pay the bills and meet our financial responsibilities, of course. That’s a given. But it’s okay to pursue an activity just for fun, because it enriches your life or challenges you or feels meaningful. The things we pursue “just for fun” are important.
The need for supportive community
It’s so much easier to pursue new things when we’re in a supportive environment. I think this is really the magic of CAMMAC. No one’s going to laugh at you, everyone will encourage you, and if I had completely messed up my lines on stage? I guarantee you no one would have cared.
I try to foster this kind of support and encouragement in the Puttytribe. Our puttypeep are trying new things all the time: putting their drawings on Instagram for the first time, launching their first business, going on their first big trip around the world. Having friends to root for you and provide guidance when requested is essential. It makes everything easier.
So, in Sum:
- Being terrible or awkward as you pursue something new and challenging is
- It’s okay to do things just for fun or because it is personally meaningful. An activity doesn’t have to be profitable to be valuable.
- Stepping out of your comfort zone is easier in a supportive environment, so find yourself some community! That might be camp, a group of friends, the Puttytribe or some other place where you can fully be yourself.
Have you ever tried something that didn’t come naturally or that seemed really out of the norm for you, that you ended up LOVING? Share your story in the comments below.