He can only do Segar

be myself
How does what someone says about me myself influence my life. Who am I really? How can I be myself? What does it even mean to “be myself”?

The school play

Educated during our teens to be total nerds, we had little time for anything but science and math at Dulwich College. So we were thrilled when our English teacher said we could put on a play. We wrote a script and I got to act. I can’t remember what the play was about, but I recall my excitement wearing different clothes instead of our obligatory school uniform.

The play ended, and as we left the theatre I overheard my teacher talking about me to another teacher. “Oh, Segar,” he said. “He can only do Segar.”

I was crushed. I felt terrible, because I thought I had acted well. And here was my teacher saying that I was just the usual Segar he knew.

I can’t act

For the next forty-five years (!) I took what my teacher said as a declaration that I wasn’t good at acting. My self-esteem was bound up with being seen as good at doing things. I couldn’t act! So I avoided opportunities to play being someone different, and perhaps, in the process, discover something new about myself.

I dare to try improv

Sparked by years of cautious personal development, I finally dared to try some improv work. I enjoyed the improv exercises snuck into various experiential workshops, including some of the (no-longer held) annual Amplifying Your Effectiveness experiential workshops (sample). Eventually I became brave enough to take a three-day introductory improv workshop at BATS in San Francisco, and have participated in a number of improv workshops and conferences since then.

I’ve discovered that, actually, I can act! In both senses of the word! And, just like when I was a teenager, I enjoy it!

These days, I don’t see doing improv as being someone different from who I am. Rather, I see it as a tool for exploring different things about myself, playing with others, and having fun.

Can I be myself?

I now interpret what my teacher said in a positive way. He may not have meant this, but I hear what he said as a compliment. “He is who he is.” Not a fake persona, not someone trying to be someone he’s not.

That’s who I want to be, myself. Everyone else is already taken.

3 thoughts on “He can only do Segar

  1. Hey Adrian

    So happy to read this post.

    Couple of thoughts:
    1. Everyone can act (although we do it better some times and worse others). It’s part of being human (Aristole argued that we are born with the ability to pretend). I’n my book ‘The ME you WANT TO BE,’ I devote chapter 7 to ‘We are ALL Actors’ and argue that we are called upon to act as a regular part of being alive. I’m happy to hear that you have come around to knowing you can act. Acting to be ‘who I want to be’ is a powerful use for acting. It would be great if humans did more of it. [if intrigued by my book, I suggest the audiobook (eg on Audible) as the best starting place.]

    2. As a professional actor, I can personally attest that most actors question their abilities on a regular basis. “I can’t act… can I act?… I can act!” is a repeated and familiar journey for people in the acting profession. Moreover, many of the biggest movie stars are extremely good at acting naturally – like themselves – in high stress situations. So maybe your acting teacher was seeing movie star qualities in you when he uttered that fateful line. Who knows? So why not take it that way 🙂

    3. I am sure glad that you turned your talents to your current profession. Who needs another actor when we could have the authentic Adrian Segar! I know what I would vote for… actually I would vote for the authentic Segar with the dash of improv and acting that you have recently embraced. Why not go with the best of all worlds?

    4. I love acting (and improv). I’m so happy to see that same joy in you. I use both all through my current career as a keynote speaker, emcee, entertainer, and event designer. I believe they are two of the things that elevate my work. I’m sure your work has benefited from your interest in acting and improv.

    5. “Everyone else is already taken” Nice! Something I have said to many, many classes of actors 🙂

    Take care! Love reading your posts

    1. Roger, you wrote one of the nicest, and most helpful and supportive comments I’ve ever received. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your perspective as an acting professional and warm human being! With love and best wishes,

      -Adrian-

      1. Hi Adrian!

        Thanks for your feedback and kind comments.

        I feel that you share your time and perspectives and the world benefits… so I’m happy to contribute my share :0

        I’m looking forward to our paths continuing to cross!

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