Columns / Discourse / September 28, 2016

One Mind: Finding confidence through performance

For my second column, I was stumped on what to focus on. I was originally going to write a piece on addressing stereotypes, but that seemed like an issue a lot of people address, and it didn’t really speak to me personally. I didn’t feel a drive to write it. If you’re a writer, you probably know what I’m talking about. However, all that changed very recently.

I decided to talk about coping, though not in a necessarily traditional sense. I’m going to talk about a way that I, and apparently a lot of other people, cope Ð at least in my experience. I will not name names. The biggest fear in America is public speaking, which can be classified as an anxiety disorder in its own right. However, I have the opposite issue. I have difficulty in most non-public social situations. This changes with public situations. If I’m giving a speech, or acting, or role-playing, I perform much better. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure why, though my theory is that giving a speech or playing a character is a way for me to participate in social situations, but as someone else. I get to have fun in a social setting without dragging all of my hang-ups with me, or at least not to the same degree. I don’t know if this is a common thing, or if roleplaying and performance are just my personal escape, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of people could relate to this.

To be clear, I am not advocating substituting performance for social interaction in daily life. However, it has definitely helped me deal with those issues somewhat while trying to be more social in general. Plus, performance has helped me to connect to people, because a lot of them understand mental illness due to knowing somebody with it.

I think I once read somewhere that roleplaying can be used to help treat mental illness. It was on a website called, though the article may be a bit difficult to find now. I can’t remember how it was believed, though I imagine it has to do with the more social aspects. I encourage you to check the article out.

Regardless of what the case is, I’ve always loved role-playing and acting and giving speeches, and I think it has helped me a lot over the years. Anybody who suffers from any condition that makes socializing difficult, I encourage you to try role-playing or performing in some way. There are some great clubs on campus that offer an opportunity for this. Some of these include Catch, Quiver, Cellar Door and TKS, for those who find writing most helpful, Improv Club or Theater, or possibly Model UN, for those who prefer acting or public speaking, and finally LARC for those who just want to play and imagine along with friends. There are also some non-official groups on campus that play similar games. Did I cover all the opportunities? Does anybody else find performing or roleplaying helpful? Anybody who wishes to is more than welcome to share their stories. I would be glad to print your letter. If you wish to remain anonymous, you are more than welcome to do so.

Tags:  column discourse improv LARC Model UN performance theater tks

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