top of page

of dreaming big but being small.

My height has defined me my entire life.

That isn't a complaint, or a boast...just a fact.

The first thing that people notice when they meet me is how short I am. When I ask old friends what their first impression of me was, they always always always say, "I thought you were short."

So is it any wonder that I have developed a bizarre Napoleonic complex, a giant personality, and a big mouth? How on earth could someone so small stay in shadows without having to fight for attention, especially as a young child?

It came as no surprise to me when, later in life, I realized that I wanted to be a performer. It had always been in the back of my head and in my blood, but I didn't face the feeling head on. My parents (classic Russian-Jews that they are) always pushed me towards medicine or law. I think that I maybe had one or two conversations with my mom about me becoming an actor, but that was quickly dropped without a second thought. When it came to choosing a college major, I disappointed both parents by choosing English Literature.

My freshman year, I tried to convince myself that my major could be changed, that maybe I'd find something more "worthwhile" later in my studies. I tried out psychology courses, criminology, a quick stint in economics, and one truly miserable American Government unit. Nothing stuck. I always came back to English, resigned, and gobbled up every novel that was thrown at me.

I've been reading and writing since I was a child. But I've also run away from it, tried to convince myself that I could find something else. But it kept chasing me, pulling me back in.

My junior year of college, I began to do stand-up.

Timidly, at first, and in secret. I wrote jokes in class when I should have been paying attention, and performed in small clubs to rooms of 5 or 6 people. I would watch the acts that came on before me, but would leave as soon as I was done with my 5 minutes. I didn't want to be recognized after getting the minimum amount of laughs. I wasn't good because I was afraid.

The whole stand-up journey is a blog post in itself, and can wait for another time. What has really struck me as of late is that I had taken 6 steps forward, then 5 steps back. 2 years into stand-up, I had begun to get some traction. I'd befriended a few aspiring comedians, made connections with a few club owners, and developed a solid 30-minute set for myself.

And then, as soon as I graduated, I took a teaching job in Israel and never looked back. I ran away, again.

Just as I was starting to get somewhere, to push myself, I flew to a foreign country to teach English. And I love it, I really do. I do not regret my choice. I just wonder if I will ever be alright with my gut feeling. If I will ever begin to take it seriously and chase my dreams. Yes, they are big dreams, and many other people have them. Yes, they are difficult to accomplish. But...isn't it worth something? If all of my life I have had the same aspirations, never wavered, never wanted to change my direction?

It has been 4 months since I last performed on a stage. My friends here, when they realize that I do stand-up, urge me to do sets in some English-speaking clubs in Tel Aviv. My friends back home ask me how my writing is coming, if I have any new jokes for them. The answers are always no.

It is difficult to be small but to have big dreams. It feels like I'm overcompensating.

But I can't help it.

I just want to convince myself that "someday" is today, and that I am good at dusting myself off when I fall. How can I possibly tell the kids that they can reach any goal they set their mind to when I can't follow my own advice? I must set the example.

Writing and performing is my life-blood. I can feel it.

bottom of page