Every week we ask a member of the Improv Community to tell their story as to how they got into Improv and what it has done for them and how it has changed their life. As the year is coming to an end I thought i would the last article of 2017 with an article written by me and how improv has really helped to transform my life this year. 

How Improv changed my year

This year has been one of the biggest roller coasters so far and it has been full of a lot of twist and turns that  have ended on a high but the beginning of the year was a different story entirely. January was one of the worst months for me and I spent a lot of it crying. I was in a job where i was being severely bullied, it was changing me as a person and it was effecting a lot of my life not just my work life.

I made the decision to give my notice and what already was bad got ten times worse because the people bullying me got ten times more awful. It was so bad in fact that I did something that I have never done in my life before – I walked out of a job.

I felt bad – I felt really awful that it had come to that, that sort of attitude isn’t me and I felt really guilty that I didn’t work my notice – i was upset that something had lead me to change my work ethic. After that whole ordeal it took a good chunk of the year to build myself up again – all my confidence had completely gone, I was questioning my talents in my job and my life in general – it was a horrible place to be.

I couldn’t of done it without the very strong support and love of my family and friends and they helped me to get back up and dust my knees off and start to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Another thing that brought my confidence back was my first freelance job where I met some of the most loveliest people and made me feel so welcome and i had a lot of laughs even though the hours were long.

Through all of these events that were happening in one part of my life there was one thing that helped me through a very tough time aside from Family and Friends and that was Improv. At the beginning of the year a few of my friends from a course that we did with Improvable last year decided to form an improv troupe, i decided to throw myself entirely into this. We didn’t meet every week and in between that i went to the drop ins that C3? were holding on the alternate weeks.

I found that improv always brought a bit of sunshine to my week and made me feel a glint of hope that i would get employed soon. It was the idea of play and training that really helped me escape – Punderstandably gave me the laughter I needed and the C3? gave me the friendships and community spirit that i needed. Whilst there have been many people in the improv community that have given me the strength through these times there are a few that really are stand outs and really deserve a mention.

Caroline has been someone from day one that has always been such a bubbly personality that she was always someone i looked forward to seeing. Sometimes at drop ins there was a lot of people i did not recognise and when I am in crowds with strong personalities or lots of people i don’t know i tend to be very shy and she brought me out of this a bit. She would constantly big me up to people (which i always find a tiny bit embarrassing as she bigs me up so much that its lovely to hear but when you are having a rough year you feel like you are not living up to the expectations that she gives you). She is a bundle of joy and my day has been a bit brighter for meeting her and I love performing improv with her and so  happy she became part of Punderstandably.

The first James i have to mention is the original James of Punderstandably – from day one i felt his enthusiasm for improv when we started doing lessons with Stephen, he was instantly one of my favourite people to do a scene with. From day one he has been so enthusiastic about performing as an improv group that he has been my drive to keep doing the work that I do for the troupe.

There was a time when we lost two members half way through  the year and i was questioning the future of Punders and the drive from James knew that we should keep going and he is one of the main reasons that Punders 2.0 came around. He is always up for us to challenge ourselves as a group and to go the distance and that is something that I have always admired.

There is also another James I have to mention and that is the other James of my Punderstandably troupe. Thinking about it, I think that he was probably the first friend i made in improv but when i first met him i wasn’t really sure what to think about him as he was always on his phone and he never said alot. My first memories of James apart from him being on his phone is thinking “wow he is good at improv and better then a lot of people in this drop in.” Over the past year and a bit we have become good friends and in the latter of the year when he officially joined Punders our friendship has become stronger.

In regardless to this, over the year I feel James has been a cheerleader and such a huge moral support. When I have been going through tough times he has looked me in the eye and said “Holly you have got this – you’re awesome” and I don’t think he knows how much this has helped me to feel more positive in the darkest of times so i want to say a public thank you.

When my life was starting to turn around in June / July time i was starting to notice a change in myself – I was becoming more confident, I was applying for jobs I would never apply for before because I didn’t think i was good enough – doing this lead me to a job I am now doing and love so much and sometimes have to pinch myself to realise that i am working on one of the biggest television shows in the country.

I feel the confidence improv has given me made me not feel completely and utterly scared at the interview but ooze with confidence and come across really well. I feel more of a spring in my step, i take leaps I probably wouldn’t before, I am more confident in delving into situations that are nerve wracking as hell. I am a Holly like an iphone, that has been upgraded.

How Improv Changed Their Lives will return in early 2018