Do Something That Scares You

austin blogpost picI moved to Helsinki from Chicago in August of 2013 to begin my studies at University of Helsinki. Unlike many expats who relocate to Finland, I did not move here for love or a job at a tech company. If I am really honest, I knew little to nothing about what to expect from Finland, other than cold winters, more personal space on public transit than I was ever afforded in Chicago and the fact that my mother's family came over from somewhere in Finland around 1900. Yet I somehow found my way to Helsinki anyway, with no friends or family here to speak of, and a whole lot of uncertainty as my primary companion.

This is where my provocative little title comes into play: I did something that scared me.

That's the thing about scaring yourself (within reason, of course); the results are often more pleasant than the anxiety and fear and uncertainty that accompany taking a risk would lead you to believe. I'm sure we all know people who embrace complacency instead of seeking out new experiences. It's not always easy to throw caution to the wind and embrace the unknown, but I do my best to attempt doing so as often as I can.

Life has a funny way of making things happen for you if you're willing to embrace the uncertainty that comes with it. This is precisely how I found myself cast as Tom in Neil LaBute's "Fat Pig." A friend of mine forwarded me the contact information for Stina, our fearless director. I knew little about the play and even less about The Finn-Brit Players, but I decided to reach out to Stina anyway. Was I scared? You bet. But I was ready to see what happened anyway because I knew that I had nothing to lose and only things to gain.

Since stepping into Tom's shoes, I've noticed a few things about who he is and how he lives his life. As you'll surely see in the play, Tom is no stranger to going with the flow and avoiding conflict. He leads a very safe life, and it isn't until he meets Helen that we see what happens when he finally decides to take a chance and do something that is outside of his comfort zone.

This is perhaps one of the many things that makes "Fat Pig" the work of comedic genius that it is. Any time you take a character and put them into a situation that is foreign to them, the laughs (and awkwardness) are sure to follow. Tom's attempts at embracing the things that scare him create interesting character dynamics, conversations and story arcs that I am very excited to share with the audience.

Of course, doing things that scare you don't always work out exactly as we would like. But that's really the beauty of life, isn't it? Making mistakes. Finger painting instead of staying in the lines. That sort of thing. What happens to Tom, you ask? Well, you'll just have to come and see for yourself.

As for my own life, I can surely say that Helsinki has given me many chances to do things that scare me. Some of them worked magnificently in my favor, while others blew up in my face. C'est la vie. But I must admit that I do get a chuckle when I reflect on the experiences I've had here. From carrying an Ikea mattress through central Helsinki and on public transportation, to my struggles with the Finnish language and accompanying mishaps with pronunciation, my life has had no shortage of comedy since I arrived.

So, do yourself a favor and do something that scares you. Oh, and come and see our production of Fat Pig. It's sure to give you ideas about ways to challenge the status quo and embrace the things that life throws at you.