Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game, asserts writer and director Nathaniel Hall
“Everyone has that inner critic that tells them they’re not good enough”
I’ve got this fear. I’m a writer, an artist, a performer. I’ve performed to crowds of thousands. I’ve taken my kit off on national telly, twice. I’ve sat and chatted live on air with Lorraine Kelly. But, I still have this fear.
I’m really worried… that I’m just a bit shit.
That might sound surprising, but it’s true. But I’m a great believer in doing something that scares you each day. You know, for growth. Trying marmite, dyeing your hair purple, swiping right on a Tory. Actually, that last one might be a step too far.
When Gay London Life got in touch and asked me to write a monthly column, my instant reaction was: who do you think you are, Bridget Jones? But here I am, article number six. And I feel it’s going OK. And if it isn’t, they’re still paying me, and you’re still reading it.
The thing is, no matter how hard I’ve tried to get rid of that self-critical voice, it’s still there.Telling me not to take the leap, to play it small, to leave the arts, go into accounting and start a gardening club (that last part sounds idyllic, to be fair).
I’m just a worrier. It’s who I am. I worry about everything. Like the other day, I was just worrying about dying.
I was having sex with my boyfriend and worrying about the inevitable end (of life, not the
sex). What’s that all about? You see, I’ve always felt like I’ve struggled to fit in. I never fitted in with the acting kids, I never joined any writing forums, and I always dressed
too different to go into the world of commercial casting. And it’s only in recent years that I’ve realised, my difference IS my USP.
A serial ‘project-starter’ (another character flaw of mine), I recently decided I wanted to try
my hand at stand-up comedy. So, when it was on TV, I began to really observe and deconstruct different comedian’s scripts. And you know, a lot of it basically just boils down to comedians taking the piss out themselves.
We sit and laugh because we recognise a bit of ourselves in them, and we all feel a little bit
less shit. But I don’t want us to just feel a little less shit. I want us all to feel amazing about ourselves and our lives.
Our community is especially incredible – resilient, creative, witty, complex, just wonderful.
And I’ve made this real conscious decision not to put myself or others down through my art. I’m much more an inspirational quote type of person.
Case in point: I’ve got a drag alter ego called Sue from Sexual Health. She’s got a heart of gold and Cheadle’s best-stocked lube cupboard. Well, her slogan is: Live, Laugh, Love, Get Tested. That’s more my brand. B and M tat with a public health message – what more could you want?
Thing is, I’ve always been a worrier, and I probably always will be. So, how can worriers like me seem so confident and extroverted? I’ll let you in on a little secret: Everyone, including artists, has that inner critic that tells them they’re not good enough – too fat, too thin, too femme, too masc, too quiet, too loud…
But artists have just learnt how to shut it up, or at least turn down the volume from time to time. So, the next time you hear yours: tell it to do one.
A friend recently said to me, ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take in this life.’ So, say yes to that date, apply for that job, take up that new class. And even if it doesn’t quite go to plan, know that each small setback makes you stronger and more resilient for the future.
So, what are you waiting for?!
You can follow Nathaniel on his insta @nathanieljhall