It’s easy to get stuck in one’s comfort zone. As a shy person, I have to remind myself to engage in activities that require me to step out of that comfort zone. Last week, I had the opportunity to do just that by participating in my school’s spring music program. We have pretty amazing programs, from our trip through the 1970s a couple of years ago to tour reenactment of Hee-Haw last year.
Normally, faculty and staff members participate in the program in a variety of ways from speaking (and even singing) parts to helping behind the scenes with lights and special effects. In the past, I typically operated the spotlights during the programs. When this year’s spring program was being developed, my principal asked if I wanted to continue to do the spotlights or did I want to be a clown. I thought for a moment before I said that I’d be a clown. As I told my principal, being a clown would definitely move me out of my comfort zone and allow me to try something new.
Soon afterwards, I received my script. One of the instructional assistants and I were going to do a skit based on a YouTube video that was pretty funny. As I considered the script, I knew that I was definitely going to be out of my comfort zone! However, I embraced the challenge and started to learn my lines. We started having some practices after school and the first time that I stepped into the “center ring” to do my skit, I felt something completely unexpected. I felt confident. I didn’t feel shy. Of course, there were only a small number of people in the room, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t feel self-conscious, even when zooming around like a train and yelling “Choo-choo!” or dumping “water” on a fellow clown. I was in a zone!
We had several practices in the weeks prior to the show. Virginia, one of our regular substitutes went to Clown College and taught us a lot about clowning. I enjoyed the rehearsals, but in the back of my mind, I wondered what would happen when the “cafetorium” was filled with students, families, and friends. Our programs usually attract a large audience and I knew that this could test my comfort zone. It was one thing to perform in front of the students and my colleagues, but what would happen when that wasn’t the case. While I know many of the families, would I be able to perform in front of a large crowd?
Virginia also helped my principal with our makeup on the day of the performance (my principal is an incredibly artistic person and did a fabulous job creating our faces). Early on the morning of our dress rehearsal, Virginia and my principal set up a makeup assembly line. The process was incredibly relaxing and in a matter of minutes, my face looked entirely different. I finished putting on my costume and the transformation from shy reading specialist to clown was complete!
The dress rehearsal went incredibly well. Again, though, I wondered about the night performance. Would I really be able to do this? About an hour before the final performance, I donned my costume and had my makeup reapplied and then it was show time. The “cafetorium” was packed and my family was seated on the second row. The opening music was cued and the kids strode onto the stage while the clowns (one shy reading specialist, one special education teacher, one actual clown/substitute, a fourth grade teacher, a PE teacher, and two instructional assistants), elephants (the principal, nurse, and an instructional assistant), tightrope walker (first grade teacher), lions (kindergarten teachers and fifth grade teacher), lion tamer (second grade teacher), and the strongman (one custodian) paraded into the “cafetorium” to begin the show.
The kids were amazing. Their singing was absolutely incredible. The skits were funny and everyone, adults and children, poured their hearts into the performance. And the shy reading specialist masquerading as a clown discovered that stepping out of her comfort zone was actually a lot of fun!