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Written By: Sandy Bjorgen, IMPROV-able Results ~ 4/11/2024


“Today, I want each of you to come up front, one at a time, and deliver a short talk for your classmates. Now, before you panic, let me say more. This will be for just 1or 2 minutes. What will you talk about? Anything you want. Your favorite food. Your dog. Something that means a lot to you. It doesn’t matter. You’ll have the table in front of you. You can lean on it for support if you want. You know all these people. You’re friends by now. Talk to your friends.”

I go to the back end of the long table and sit down. “Anyone can start.” I know this will be scary. It once was for me. But I want to help them get ready for their mock job interviews, which will put them all under great pressure. This could be a baby step toward tolerating being on the spot.

What if no one goes up? I’m prepared to wait. Soon one of the women stands, saying, “Might as well get it over with.” She begins talking about her religion. Maybe not the best start to this exercise, I think; might make some uncomfortable. But, she is talking about something important to her, and it’s flowing. This is the feeling I want each to have. She’s doing great and will encourage the others. As soon as the speaker sits down, another goes up. Super!

I hear a sort of hissing noise and look around. Estelle is loudly whispering my name and beckoning me over. Standing beside her and bending down, I hear, “I can’t do this!” This surprises me because she loves talking to people. I don’t want to terrorize anyone. I remember that feeling. But I don’t want this to fall apart, to have her fear scare the rest into opting out too.

Sudden inspiration strikes! Before I try to overthink it, I say, “I’ll go up with you,” turn, and start walking toward the front of the room. I sneak a glance and am grateful to see her following me.

I stand slightly off to the side and wait for her to begin. She looks down at the table, then up at her friends. “Well, ok. Sandy said I can talk about anything. And, I know you all.” She begins, a bit slowly. But as she looks at her smiling friends, she picks up the pace. Now she’s enjoying this. I suddenly realize that she’s no longer aware of my presence. So I quietly slip back to my seat.

I’m so proud of her, and the rest. They’re much less timid than when they first arrived for this four-week course called “The Displaced Homemaker Program,” designed to get them out into the workforce and self-supporting. I’m proud of myself too. I’ve gained much experience and the courage to experiment and go with the flow as I help class members do the same. With each new group, I ask myself, “How can I elevate this program: make it more supportive, successful, and fun for all of us?”

As Estelle walks back and sit down, she says, “I didn’t know I could do that!” I smile and nod. She’s voiced what probably each one of us is thinking. We’re all learning that we can exceed expectations with baby steps and a little help from our friends.

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Sandy Bjorgen
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