Back when I was here last summer – here being the Philippe Gaulier clown/theatre school, because why should you know where I am right now? – I wrote a couple of posts about being boring and the fears of social rejection.

If you want to read those 2 posts, go find them for yourself! You’re a capable adult (maybe) and I have faith in your ability to find things without needing a clickable link – though I have no faith in my own ability to find things.

Well, yesterday, both “Being Boring” and “Rejection” reared their heads yet again, like a grumpy pair of cows looking at a passing hillwalker.

Being Boring

Yesterday, we played a game that we often play here at the start of Philippe’s classes – Samuel Says.

This is a simple game. When the teacher says “Samuel says” and an instruction, you follow that instruction. When he gives you an instruction with no “Samuel says,” don’t follow it… or it’s a “mistake.”

If you make a mistake, Philippe tells you that you have to find a certain number of “kisses” from your classmates. If you can get those kisses, you are saved, if not you are “beaten” by Philippe’s assistant. You can get the kisses from multiple people.

That is the game, on the surface. But really, I think, it’s a game about finding other fun games to play. Because the game itself gets boring fairly quickly.

It’s about taking the stage/focus and being interesting when it’s your turn. It’s about having “the pleasure of performance” when you are looking for kisses, or when someone asks you for a kiss

I don’t do particularly well in this game.

Yesterday, I somewhat failed it completely…

You are so fucking boring

In the game yesterday, I made a “mistake.” I walked when I shouldn’t have.

And so I was called out. I had to find 20 kisses.

When I had found these kisses, Philippe said to the class:

“This person is boring [i.e. me]. Do you think that I will ask him to find kisses again? No, because he is boring when he finds them. He can make as many mistakes as he wants and I am not going to make them do it again, because he is so boring to watch.”


Which was a great learning moment, but also it stung.

And I think I turned the situation around a little afterwards… I started “rebelling” because he had basically given me a free pass to make mistakes, so I happily made mistakes.

But the did sting because:

1) I fear I am a boring person.
2) Well… I don’t usually get very involved in the game. This was a rare occasion. I don’t usually do well at Samuel Says.

What “vibes” do you give off?

What do I mean when I say I don’t usually do well at Samuel says?

For one thing, I rarely get asked for kisses by others. Of the maybe 20-40 times I’ve played it here at the school, I think people have asked me for kisses 2 or 3 times. So, the only way I can “get involved” is to make a mistake.

Why don’t people often ask me for kisses? Of course, it’s impossible for me to know what’s going on in other people’s heads. But, I suspect that I give off “uncertain vibes.”

I certainly think I give off “weird vibes” in social situations. So it would make sense that this also happens in this game that centres around social dynamics and acceptance.

In other words, I don’t look like a clear “safe and friendly option.”

I’m a shy person. The fear of social rejection is high up on my all time biggest fears.

I’ve noticed recently that this fear can have a self-fulfilling effect:

1. The “worrying part” of my brain worries that an individual might dislike me.
2. That uncertainty shows itself on my face when I look at them.
3. The person then detects that uncertainty in my face and reflects uncertainty back to me.
4. I detect that uncertainty in their face and the “worrying part” of my brain uses it as “evidence” that the person dislikes me.

I do a lot of mental “exercises” (e.g. meditation, CBT… sometimes, positive reframing, and plenty of useless arguing with myself) to try to catch this type of thought-spiral.

But it just takes the seed of doubt to take hold in my head for that worry/uncertainty to show up on my face and start influencing how people perceive me… or rather, how I perceive that people perceive me (NB: this sentence was shortlisted for the Top 100 most confusing sentences in Paris this week).

My challenge: to find games and pleasure in Samuel says

I have a huge collection of challenges right now.

Little tasks and games that I’ve set myself to help me improve, little by little, during the courses we are doing right now at the school: Masked Play and Melodrama.

I haven’t written these challenges down yet here on this blog because… well, I just haven’t gotten round to it yet.

But, this “You are boring” comment (which I’d last received from Philippe back in summer) comes at an interesting time.

Because I had already started to think this week “I want to find ways to make Samuel Says more interesting. Because I am bored of this game.”

So, this is a good little challenge.

How can I find ways to make the game more interesting for me and also bring myself into the game more.

And can I work to make myself more “approachable”?

I don’t know about the latter part. I don’t know if I can change my face and the shy uncertainty that it displays.

But I can at least start to look for ways to make the game more interesting.

And maybe that’ll help something…

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