Looking Stupid in My Backwards Time Machine

Like a lot of people, I spend too much time living in the past. Like maybe slightly less of those people, much of that rehashing is spent obsessing about things I can’t change and that probably don’t matter all that much anyway. I worry over the things I said or the choices I made (or didn’t make) or what other people might have thought about me along the way. It’s an exhausting waste of time and energy, and as far as I can tell, the only purpose it serves is to indulge myself in counterproductive, negative self-talk that is 100% foolish.

I have some definite goals for the new year: drink more water, use my mobile devices a lot less, write more, finish editing my novel, run more, keep taking improv courses, be happy, yadda, yadda, yadda. But, my biggest challenge for 2014 is to really start liking myself and to stop being so afraid all the time. And by all the time, I mean ALL THE TIME.

So, it’s kind of crucial for me to stop using my brain space for all that backwards time travel.

On Sunday night, I was watching and enjoying the Best of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon special, and I found myself laughing out loud for much of it.

Part of my reaction was in response to the clever writing and wit of the clips, but most of it was due to Fallon’s willingness to fully commit to such silliness. I have to say that I admire an comedian who, instead of just going for the joke, goes for the reality of the moment, and in making that choice, is funny. Jimmy Fallon always looks like he is open to try anything, and because of that, he seems genuinely delighted by just about everyone and everything, which is great fun for an audience to witness, or at least, that’s the case for this girl.



Earlier in the semester, as I struggled with self-confidence in my improv course, I sent an email to my teacher to ask for help. Basically, I was crying on my way home every week, feeling totally inadequate and uncreative, and I just, you know, didn’t want to do that anymore.

She sent me a long, encouraging message in which she included the image below, and though her words were quite helpful, I could not stop thinking about this Amy Poehler quote, which has become a mantra of sorts for me:


The fear of looking bad or looking not-good-enough that often plagues me is just the kind of thing a person shouldn’t focus on during an improv scene, or anywhere, really. If I keep worrying about the past or how the present will look in past-tense, I will never commit to anything, and I will never feel good about anything.  What kind of a life is that?

And that is why I’m going to work darn hard in 2014 to let go of so much of that fear.

I think it’s kind of time to seal the doors of my backwards time machine, anyway. It’s defective, always going back to all the worst parts and causing me to miss out on some of the best right-nows.





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12 Responses to Looking Stupid in My Backwards Time Machine

  1. Matthew says:

    That mantra is precisely the sort of thing I needed while growing up (and at times, now).

    I grew up doing theatre, and music, but was always afraid to “let it all out” and therefore sort of remained in the shadows for a lot of opportunities. It wasn’t until my senior year that I began to break down that shell, but by then it was a little to late when it came to showing people I wasn’t the same shy guy they’ve known for 10+ years.

    Good luck. And you should totally video tape one of your improv performances and post it here! I’m sure many others will second my remark. 😉

    • Gina says:

      Ah, but it’s never really too late to “let it all out,” right?! I hope not!

      Thanks, Matthew, and I don’t know if I’m brave enough for video just yet, but maybe someday!!

  2. I love this! Jimmy Fallon is great and that Amy Poehler quote is so spot on. It’s true!

    Good luck as you pursue all your goals in 2014! You’re going to gain so much from sending that time machine to the junk yard. 🙂 xoxo

    • Gina says:

      Isn’t Jimmy Fallon the best? I just adore him–and Amy Poehler!

      I agree, I think I will learn a lot when I trash that time machine. Can’t wait to see what happens!

  3. As I read your post, I thought to myself, “Wow, who knew Gina and I were so much alike?” Though I try my best to focus on the positive, it is not an effortless task, and I do backslide occasionally. I too had the tendency of spending too much time living in the past and worrying about what everyone else thinks and feels. It actually took me years to start liking myself, and to cut down on the negative talk, but I know it is possible for you because I did it! You are an inspiration to me and so many others and may not even know it! Stay motivated. One of the quotes I live by is from the rap artist/actor Common, “Never looking back or too far in front of me. The present is a gift, and I just want to be.”

    • Gina says:

      I love being able to be honest on my blog because it’s liberating, and it enables me to get to know other awesome writers who have similar experiences to mine!

      I so appreciate your kind words, Tanya (and Common’s words, too)!!

  4. Yes! Definitely kick out the time machine! I’m excited for you as you embrace the right now and fun in life. Letting go of the fears and being brave! You are going to have an amazing 2014!

  5. Nicole says:

    This is SO good and a blog post that is at the top of my list of blog-post faves! We ALL could learn from this! Thanks for sharing and for inspiring!!

  6. Babs says:

    My favorite quote is by Franklin D. Roosevelt ” Only thing to fear is fear itself”. I use that quote in my everyday living and when I feel fear that little quote comes to mind. Your honesty is refreshing and I believe not only does it help you but others who have the same difficulty. As time goes by your fears will change by not focusing on yourself but of your growing child. I personally think you have done so well thus far and perhaps you should only focus of that positivity of your accomplishments.

  7. Winding road says:

    I love this! We all have fears, don’t we? I wrote a post I think right before the new year about fears as well and trying to let go of them. But the fact that you even joined an improv group shows how brave you are! You are self-aware and that is so important. I love the image and quote too, really good to remember.Good luck this year with all of your goals!

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