Psychological Safety or Competition?

This blog post about Psychological Safety and Improv really spoke to what I have experienced a lot with my theatre work. Looking back at times at university, I would even say that the full first year was just about getting ourselves settled with ourselves and with others. Don't hold me accountable for this number, the point I am trying to make is, that it is a lot of work to really get there.

For me, the big struggle was less to trust my fellow students in the moment, but it was the fact that there we were - 12 bright, talented students. Who of us would get one of the limited jobs after university? Today, I have a term for this - it is called a fixed mindset. Back than, I called it competition. Were we not meant to compete with each other?

I tried to appease myself, I tried to ignore this question. But it stuck there, and from the rivalries I saw flaring up during all these years, I assume, I was not the only one.

After university, I did not get a job at a fancy theatre. I was facing unconscious and conscious biases. I had short, brown hair and did not look, nor move, nor speak like someone, who just conquered Walhalla (German site for heros). It was brutal to go through this. Because I knew exactly, that it was not about me or my abilities. It was about pre-conceptions of others. I had to learn that theatre was not the place where all social norms were at disposition, but that it worked along those norms and re-inforced them as well. 

But, with this experience, I was able to let go of the rivalry, completely. Because I started being OK with not conquering Walhalla. I did not dye my hair to blond. Instead, I kept looking for people, who were not searching for the next conqueress. Or for someone to complement the conqueress. And I did find them. 

I have learned to embrace that every person is unique. There is a place for the conqueress and there is a place for me. Neither of us will always have the streets paved with gold or always find open arms with all ideas that we have. 

This led to the biggest win in psychological safety I could get. Safety within myself.