A couple of month ago, I got an email from ImprovBoston letting me know registration was open for the next session of classes. Over the past few years, I’ve taken a few improv classes and I thought it would be fun (and slightly scary) to take another one.

But the next level class I would need to take was already sold out.

I looked at some of the other classes and one stood out to me: Intro to Standup. That looks like fun, I thought, even as a thrill of fear went through me. “It would help my writing and my public speaking,” a logical part of my mind stated.

“But you’d have to go on stage,” another part of my mind shouted. It kept going, but I ignored it. The class was months away, so it was easy to think: Hey, how bad could it be?

I signed up for the class and forgot about it.

Until now.

The class starts Sunday, and it could be really, really bad.

What was I thinking?

I’ll be humiliated.

I’ll be so embarrassed.

No, really, what was I thinking?!

Okay, deep breath.

I was thinking I’d like to develop more skills and this class would be a great way to do it. Plus, it could be fun. It will be fun, at least parts of it. And the other parts, where I (may) experience embarrassment and humiliation, well, those emotions won’t kill me.

The part of my mind that was shouting about my imminent humiliation is still there, but I’m not going to make decisions based on that part of my mind. Unless I’m in actual physical danger, that part of my mind is not going to help me live a good life.

That part of my mind wants me to stay small, isolated, and (ideally) bored. That way I’ll have the best chance of surviving to live another day. That’s all that primitive part of my mind cares about: survival.

I want to do more than survive; I want to thrive.

In order to do that, I need to make decisions based on thinking that comes from a different part of my mind. The part that knows no matter what, I’m fine. The part that knows embarrassment and humiliation are only emotions, emotions that ebb and flow like the tide. The part that knows discomfort means I will grow as a person and a professional.

That’s the part I’m listening to today.

Intro to Standup, here I come.