By Megan Wirts
Most people that know me, get that I am not one to shy away from being the center of attention. I was recently interviewed on a radio show because I was participating in Gilda’s Laughfest, a comedy festival in Grand Rapids, and I was asked how I decided to get into stand-up comedy. It’s not every day that a 30 something, wife and mother with a disability, from a tiny little town decides to tell jokes about her life in front of other people. So, I told my story of being diagnosed with Dystonia, a neurological movement disorder, and having to quit my job and how I decided not to dwell in the sorrow of my new circumstances, but instead, I chose laughter. I told them how I had been active in my local community theater and that I missed being on stage, so the only logical thing for me to do was to become a stand-up comedian.
The radio host said that most people would find that terrifying. “Not me!”, I replied, “I’m more afraid of the dark.” To which he quipped, “It’s not very dark in that spotlight.”
And he was right.
It’s a bright place being up on a stage with all the lights on you, and I love it up there. Why else would I subject myself to something like stand-up comedy, if I didn’t love it? I would have to be a masochist. Stand-up comedy has been one of the scariest things I have ever done, and I’ve had brain surgery.
Every time before a show, I overthink, over analyze and worry about every word I’m going to say. My family and friends might say that I even get a little (a lot) grumpy and that I might not be their favorite person to be around right before a show I might be a bit extra nervous about. I’m lucky they love me.
This exchange got me thinking afterwards. Thinking about my fears, my hopes and about what it means to live my best life. It got me thinking about the real reasons I do the things I do. It made me wonder. Was I living my best life? What does that even look like?
I see what it looks like for other people on social media all the time. You know those girls that share a post yoga selfie with their avocado toast, captioned, “Living my best life *heart emoji*”. I’m guilty, I post things like that too. Except it’s me pre-Netflix marathon with a piece of cheesecake. I still do yoga and I do enjoy myself some avocado toast from time to time, but I also lay on the couch and try to eat all the Easter candy. It’s called balance.
I have had to reevaluate what “living my best life” means to me many times. When I was a teenager I was certain that I needed to have a boyfriend in order to be happy. According to the journals I kept from the time I was 13 years old (oh the angst!), that was my number one goal in life. The problem was that nobody really wanted to be my boyfriend and if they did it wasn’t for very long.
I wrote about how at the age of 16 I felt like I was an old maid because my mom was married at that age and my boyfriend (of only a 2 months) dumped me two days before Christmas and now I would most certainly never find love and Christmas was ruined forever! Almost everyone in my family had gotten married by the time they were 18 years old, it seemed like that was what you were supposed to do. Granted a few of those marriages haven’t lasted because getting married as a teenager is not exactly the best idea for everyone. I didn’t really want to get married, but I was convinced that I needed to at least have a boyfriend. If I didn’t, I was destined to die alone in a house full of cats. It also seemed like all my friends had boyfriends or girlfriends and I felt so alone. However, not having a boy to consume my time did give me time to study and participate in a ridiculous amount of extracurricular activities, including the high school drama club and choir. Those two things gave me life in high school. It didn’t make me popular (quite the opposite) or find me a boyfriend, but it did make me believe I could one day get out of this little town and be the first Broadway star from Newaygo County, and I would definitely find a boyfriend in New York City!
That didn’t quite happen. Apparently, it costs a lot of money to live in New York City. I was also only 17 years old when I graduated high school, and terrified of everything. So, I went with my best friend to a small Christian college close to home. A safe choice. After my first year, I knew that I couldn’t stay there for another 3-4 years. I couldn’t afford to spend over $20,000 per year while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I also kind of hated it there. So, I moved back home. I was finally at the point in my life where I didn’t think I needed a boyfriend to fulfill my life. I was going to be a strong independent woman and live my best life! Of course, just a few weeks later I started dating my husband. After a couple of years, we got married and had some kids. It has been over 15 years now since we were married, and my husband has been a constant force in my life since then. He is my rock that pulls me out of the clouds when my ideas seem a little too over the top and I’m the one that pushes him out of his comfort zone and challenges him to try new things. Even though we are complete opposites on the personality spectrum, we make this thing work, because we work at it.
After I was diagnosed with Dystonia, I was consumed with grief and my husband never wavered. He held me while I wept on the kitchen floor because of the frustration I felt when I couldn’t drive myself to the store to get more eggs and then he drove me to the store to get the eggs. He has had to wait in hospital waiting rooms for hours wondering if his wife is ever going to be the same and then realizing that she isn’t, and she is going to need him more than he ever imagined. He has had to overcome his anxieties and fears, just so that I can be happy. He may not laugh at every joke I tell because there are only so many times you can hear another take on the zombie apocalypse, and he might shake his head and say, “Really, Megan?” more often than he would like, but he has always supported me.
He supported me when I decided to go to college full time when we had a 3-year-old child and a 2-month-old infant. Those years nearly killed us. He supported me through weight gains, every fad diet imaginable, weight loss surgery, a house fire, two brain surgeries and now Dystonia. He knew that when I finally accepted that I wasn’t going to get better that I was not giving up on my life. I was just reinventing my life to fit the circumstances that I found myself in. My idea of living my best life is ever changing. My best life used to be running actual marathons (alright it was a 5k, but still, it was running!), and now my speed is more Netflix marathons. It used to involve me in costume being part of some big theatrical production. Now it’s just me, alone, with my words and there isn’t always a stage, but there is always laughter. Every day I want to choose to live my best life and I will always choose laughter.
Maybe it will involve avocado toast or maybe cheesecake (most likely cheesecake) but it will always be me….
“Living my best life”.
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