Overcoming having fun

Written in December 2022


Sounds like a weird concept, right? How is fun something to overcome? Surely having fun is the opposite of an obstacle?


Well, yes. And no.


I've been going to a drop-in improv class. I say “been going”, I've been thrice but I have enjoyed it every time and would like to keep going. I love thinking on my feet, playing with language and generally acting the fool so it's ideal for me to flex these skills. I particularly love the games where we're constricted a little, so I have a framework within which to improvise, which is hardly surprising given I'm autistic! The five-person limerick game was especially good fun because I love the challenge of rhyming and meter, while the headline (use the last word of the previous example) is also an enjoyable play with words. I think these games are often the ones people struggle with because of the parameters.


So clearly, I have fun at this improv session, so where's the fun obstacle?


It's the warm-up exercises designed to get your brain thinking fast. The ones where you stand in a circle and send a clap round the group, then across the group, then another rule is added and so on. Or the type of thing where you run and swap places with people at random.


These sorts of games push my brain further than I can cope with comfortably, as it takes me longer to process and assimilate a rule or instruction, especially if this means I also have to use proprioceptive or varioceptive senses (making a decision on which way to move and what action to take, then enacting that and making sure I'm following all the rules is a dyspraxia nightmare).


My brain is already working at the speed needed for improv (it's why I'm good at certain aspects of it) so when it's forced to speed up, it's hard to slow it back down to manage the actual improv bits that come later, plus I'm also trying to parallel-process the overstimulation of the warm up games, causing a bottleneck in my brain.

I want to keep going to these sessions, but I think I'll have to contact the organisers and explain that I'll habitually be joining 20 minutes late to skip past most/some of these warm up games so I can effectively join in when the activity and my brain are running at the same pace. Otherwise, I'm going to mentally fall over my own feet and continue to go blank as I try to reign in my brain to work at the speed of the activity.


A really positive take-away from all this is that I have identified a way round, or over, this obstacle, and I actually feel able to put it into practice. This shows me I have come a long way in the past few years because what old-me would have done was decide the thing not is for me, not bother thinking of a solution, then regret not going back to the thing, even feeling excluded from the thing even though I can be accommodated if I ask.

It shows I'm starting to think more flexibly, I am starting to feel like I am allowed to create and ask for accommodations to enable my participation, and that I'm starting to advocate for myself again. Given that these are things that have amplified many problems in my past, I'm seeing this as a big win, and...


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