Mortified: Tapping Into the Transformative Nature of Nervous Energy Mortified: Tapping Into the Transformative Nature of Nervous Energy
- Most Read
Understand Consent With the Help of Stick Figures and a Cup of Teaby Craig Carilli
One Couple Shares Their Experience as Transgender Soldiersby Katie Ratcliffe
Some Teens Kept Sexually Harassing This Young Journalist. So She Humiliated the Hell Out of Them.by Adam Albright-Hanna
Denmark’s New Eco-Friendly School is a Marvel of Solar Scienceby Laura Feinstein
Africans Share Powerfully Positive Images of Their Continent to Combat Media Stereotypesby Heather Dockray
NYPD Officer Shows Off Dance Skills at Gay Pride Paradeby Gabriel Reilich
An HIV-Positive Man Asks Strangers to Touch Him. Their Responses Bring Him to Tears.by Craig Carilli
Kids Give the Best Explanations for Gay Marriageby Craig Carilli
In Defense of the Three-Day Work Weekby Douglas Rushkoff
Mortified: Tapping Into the Transformative Nature of Nervous Energy
I make a living off of nervous energy. As the creator of a stage show, Mortified, where people share their most embarrassing childhood writings in front of total strangers, this topic has gradually become my unusual area of expertise.
In the 10 years since I began shepherding the project, I have had the unique opportunity to witness people's two biggest terrors collide: their fear of public speaking and their memory of their teenage self. This combination has created a petri dish for people's innermost anxieties to flourish. It's been exciting watching their nerves rattle over the years, and I don't say that due to any perverse sense of schadenfreude. I say that because it's simply exciting to watch someone confront something that terrifies them, and transform because of it.
From my vantage point, as a guy standing next to them backstage in the moments before they walk to the mic, I can see the panic set into their eyes. I hear the shortness of breath. I witness the pacing. The anticipation makes them as delirious as it does nauseous, and there's something infectious about that. Thrilling, even.
They range in professions. Some of them are teachers. Others work at law firms or tech startups. Interestingly, the ones who do come from performance backgrounds—singers, stand ups, actors—are often the most freaked out by the process. Ultimately though, none of that ever matters. Because in the minutes before they're finally ready to "share the shame" with an audience of several hundred strangers, their resume inevitably dissolves. All they bring to the mic is their personality and energy. When they walk off stage after their first time, they usually can't recall what just happened. "It was a bit of blur," they say, somewhat intoxicated. "But I think they liked it."
I can't say that these moments have an impact beyond one night for them. But for me, the aggregate of watching this pattern happen all these years has been hugely transformative. I get nervous for them and feel exhilarated when those nerves are rewarded with applause. It's a rush that energizes me, and keeps me fueled for the next.
Ten Independence Movements You Should Know About This Fourth of July Americans are lucky enough to celebrate independence with beer and fireworks, but people all over the world are still fighting for their freedom.
Culture Mark Hay
People with Criminal Backgrounds Finally Stand Chance to Get Hired in New York The city passed a groundbreaking new law making it harder for employers to discriminate.
News Heather Dockray
This is What Happens When You Take Four Old People to a Crazy Music Festival They thought they’d seen it all, but they were wrong.
Culture Sean McDonald
Thousands of Repurposed Seashells Turn Beach Into Dazzling Installation To celebrate the annual ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ festival in Denmark, artist Subodh Kerkar repurposed thousands of mussle shells into a mesmerizing homage to the ocean.
Design Laura Feinstein
Ambitious Brit Wants to Bail Out Greece With a Crowdfunding Campaign The IndieGogo page has already garnered more than €1 million.
News Tasbeeh Herwees
New Startup Wants Us Wishing on (Man-Made) Shooting Stars Artificial meteor showers could light up our night skies, and give meteorologists a perfect tool for examining our atmosphere.
Technology Rafi Schwartz
Ten Independence Movements You Should Know About This Fourth of July 33 minutes ago People with Criminal Backgrounds Finally Stand Chance to Get Hired in New York 43 minutes ago This is What Happens When You Take Four Old People to a Crazy Music Festival about 1 hour ago Thousands of Repurposed Seashells Turn Beach Into Dazzling Installation about 2 hours ago Ambitious Brit Wants to Bail Out Greece With a Crowdfunding Campaign about 2 hours ago New Startup Wants Us Wishing on (Man-Made) Shooting Stars about 3 hours ago Airline Discovers Awesome Way To Convert Food Waste Into Plane Fuel about 4 hours ago How Apps Are Helping Kids with Autism Learn to Communicate about 5 hours ago Interactive Billboards Let You Experience the Sounds of Faraway Cities about 6 hours ago Man Uses Drone to Expose One of America's ‘Biggest Secrets’ about 16 hours ago One-Legged Breakdancer Shows Off His Moves about 20 hours ago Little Girl Thoroughly Unimpressed by Man’s Homophobic Rantings about 22 hours ago
Project Literacy Building partnerships for a more literate future. Data for GOOD Harnessing the power of information. The GOOD Wellness Project How our choices help our bodies thrive. The 2014 GOOD City Index GOOD's annual breakdown of the most inspiring cities in the world. The GOOD Cities Project We create the cities we love, and the cities we love create us. The GOOD 100 Find out what kind of global citizen you are in this immersive quiz inspired by our annual celebration of 100 creative changemakers.