Classes or Activities in NYC to get over fear of humiliation?
March 27, 2014 8:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for things to do, classes to take, etc., in New York that will help conquer a fear of humiliation. Ideally this would be done gently or gradually. Improv classes come to mind, but I'm afraid that they might be too much too soon. I've also heard of dating gurus (I'm male) who help with this sort of thing, but when you search for them online most of them seem creepy or weird. Any ideas along these lines?
posted by malhouse to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Ah! I have the thing for you. Try playback theatre. In a small non-judgy environment, you get to act out stories (yours or others) and learn how to just spontaneously be what you feel at that moment. Sometimes they just create a scene and you get to improv how you feel in that scene... like at a fairground or rodeo or whatever. I personally found it enormously helpful in accessing my authentic response 'in the moment'.

Google around for "playback theatre" or "drama therapy" as there are lots in NYC. You want to find one that lets YOU do the acting (not tell your story to a bunch of actors who intrepret it for you). If you were in Toronto I would recommend "inspired playback theatre".

Good luck!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:45 AM on March 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Clown camp? Go take some classes to be a clown where the point is to be laughed at and act embarassingly. Then maybe doing it IRL won't be so hard.

Honestly, therapy could very likely help you work through this sort of thing.

Also, it would help if we new in what context you are fearful of humiliation? Dating? Work? Making mistakes? What are you considering "humiliating'?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:47 AM on March 27, 2014

Want to know what I did? I found something I was very, very good at--one thing I KNEW I knew better than 99% of the population--and found a place where I could put that to work. It helps that you live in NYC because that gives you a whole host of options.

I happen to know a lot about the history of surgery, particularly in that delightfully weird and creepy 1750s-1850s period. Chicago happens to be the home of the International Museum of Surgical Science. I went there, wrote my own tour, and became a docent. I gave tours every Saturday for close to 3 years.

It really helped me become more outgoing and really boosted my confidence level. This was shit that I knew--I was good at it. I held specialized knowledge that others did not. I couldn't be humiliated because others were there to learn from me. It was great.

Theater or improv would be great I think, but for me personally, what helped me get over the aaahhh mah gaahhh!! hump was putting myself in a position where I was the expert.
posted by phunniemee at 8:48 AM on March 27, 2014 [11 favorites]

There's an event in Chicago called The Fear Experiment that might be the sort of thing you're looking for. I am not sure if they've expanded locations yet but maybe it will spark some ideas.
posted by Bunglegirl at 8:51 AM on March 27, 2014

I think dance classes would be perfect for this if dancing is out of your comfort zone. Especially any type of Latin dance since they require a partner. Salsa is pretty easy to conquer so I would try that if I were you.

I'm not from New York but I know that there is definitely an audience for salsa there. I did a quick google search and a lot of different places came up.

This one says that it teaches classes from all levels and that you don't have to bring your own partner along:
posted by NowYouKnow at 8:52 AM on March 27, 2014

Dance, totally! Look into public recreation centers or other low-key, community focused centers that offer courses. The other people in these courses won't be professionals or experienced dancers, like they might be at more of a dance school setting. You'll all be together in the learning process.

Anecdata: I am the least co-ordinated person I know, and was terrified when my friends convinced me to sign up for a hip-hop dance class through our local park district. The promise that we'd all go out to one of my favorite restaurants after the first class is basically what got my butt in the door, where I found out it was SO much fun! Our teacher was enthusiastic, patient, and focused on us having fun. I don't think anyone in the whole class had any background with hip-hop coming in, so we all looked silly together. I was genuinely bummed when our teacher moved across the country and they stopped offering that particular course. I'm not any kind of dance genius now, but the classes really helped me feel more comfortable in my body, and less embarrassed and anxious about trying new things around people I don't know. I think this type of class could really fit what you want here.
posted by augustimagination at 10:19 AM on March 27, 2014

Oliver Burkeman talks about this in his book The Antidote. In his case, he was instructed to take the subway in New York and call out each stop, although it totally mortified him. Some other examples are also given. The philosophical context in which he did this might be helpful to you.
posted by PickeringPete at 2:19 PM on March 27, 2014

How about city scavenger hunts? I think the list of things/people to find usually requires chatting up strangers.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:47 PM on March 27, 2014

open mic night at a comedy club teaches you to handle anything.
posted by bruce at 5:08 PM on March 27, 2014

Contra dancing!
posted by 6thsense at 2:39 AM on March 28, 2014

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