Take the Lead. ~ Clara Sayre

Via elephant journal
on Oct 21, 2012
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socially awkward
Source: Mat Miller via Alexandra on Pinterest

No matter what I do with my life, or how successful I am, I will always be a socially awkward penguin inside. That shit runs deep, man.

~ Wil Wheaton

Yes, it does, Mr. Wheaton, yes, it does.

This has been my identity for so long, I don’t know that I could extract my socially awkward penguin and know who I was afterwards—I think it’d be much easier to make peace with her and not allow her to always lead the dance.

I envy people who can act silly in crowds, who can dance at concerts without a care in the world, who are comfortable in the public eye (but not overly-so); the only way I can do this now is when I am intoxicated.

Obviously, this is a problem.

As I have no plans of becoming a functioning alcoholic, I’m having a go of it sober and with a little help from a generic brand pill lovingly named sertraline.

I actually told my partner, John, the other day that while I do enjoy watching performers do funny things, I’m also inwardly cringing at their antics, embarrassed for them. I hold my breath when someone flubs a line and immediately want to go up and hug them, letting them know it’s alright, if they do.

I found out recently that not everyone has this response when they screw up in front of people—on purpose or not. They can laugh heartily with the crowd, they are comfortable with themselves and their immediate response isn’t to turn red, dissolve into tears and run from the room, seeking the mild comfort of the bathroom, where one can cry alone and replay the scene over and over again until it is firmly lodged into their brain as The Day Everyone Saw Laughed At You.


Apparently, that’s a funny little joke my brain’s been playing on me all those years.

So anyway, my partner’s always been a jokester.

I’ve known the guy for almost thirteen years now and not a week has gone by where he isn’t making up jokes on the fly, singing along with the music in Kmart (I joined in with the singing on our last Kmart trip…incidentally, this is how I found out that the lyrics are Ain’t that America,” not “Ain’t that a miracle”), dancing outrageously in the car to eighties music and (the bane of my existence) trying to get me to dance with him in a store, mall, grocery store…in pretty much any public place.

Quite frankly, I thought he was the weird one, not me…I mean, who does that kind of stuff?

In the last six months, I’ve developed (by necessity, since my partner is actively pursuing this line of work) quite the knowledge base regarding clowning.

I had no idea that clowns were anything but scary painted strangers, who were so over-stimulating in dress, color, make-up and shoes, that I would forget to breathe (and not in a good way). They also make balloon animals…and I have a pretty bad balloon phobia.

Anyway, it took a lot of convincing but I’m finally starting to realize that most clowns don’t live that stereotype. These folks are just like my partner; they love to entertain, make people laugh and be funny.

What I believe I’ve actually had a problem with all these years is the fact that they can easily do what I am most terrified to do: bring attention to myself and be silly.

I think this is why I’m so drawn to flash mobs, theater, Amanda Palmer and a handful of my close friends; they do what I (secretly, desperately, secretly) wish I could do.

They can stand on a chair, in a busy mall food court and start singing and dancing. They can become someone else entirely and entertain people behind a mask. My friends can play music in front of hundreds, others can stand up front at a concert and dance and still others (okay, really only one) wears mismatched socks on purpose.

I love them all so much, because if they can do it, then maybe I can also. Or maybe osmosis is real after all.

I am a big believer in paths opening up when I most desperately need guidance or to learn a lesson. Thus, I worked in the tourist destination/foodie heaven that both Nate Berkus and Oprah talked about, known as Zingerman’s Deli, where I played the role of Clara, Gourmet Breadslinger Extraordinaire; I also am married to a guy who was born to be an entertainer and to make people laugh and who pushes my buttons in order to get me to loosen up.

It’s good for me. I know this. And I will keep telling myself this until I believe it.

Moral of the story is: befriend your socially awkward penguin…but do not always allow him or her to be the lead. You’ll miss out on a lot.


Clara Sayre is John’s best friend, the caretaker of a cat and a tortoise, a wanderer, feminist, nature-hugger and a lover of the printed word. In order to make money, she works as a receptionist and as a bookseller—but her ultimate dream also involves writing, traveling, cheering on her husband while he pursues becoming a professional clown and turning her volunteer position on the production team of The New Captain Kangaroo Show into a long-term, paid gig. She can also be read at her personal blog and at The New Captain Kangaroo’s blog, as her blogging alt-persona, Claraboo the Caribou.



Editor: Bryonie Wise

Like elephant I’m not “Spiritual.” I just practice being a good person on Facebook.


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27 Responses to “Take the Lead. ~ Clara Sayre”

  1. Alex Zaprudsky says:

    I have always been one to encourage to embrace their awkwardness. It truly makes you a more genuine, loveable person! Thank you for perpetuating the message, Clara!

  2. Candy Pearson says:

    Great post Clara! I’ve always loved every part of you, socially awkward or not! 🙂 And now I don’t feel so strange to have a balloon phobia as well, so thank you!

  3. Aubree Geller says:

    I think it's great that you know yourself well enough to post something like this, Clara. We all have traits that challenge us AND make us endearing and unique individuals who are friends and families love. I think it's great that you continue to challenge yourself everyday by taking up jobs that are new, meeting people who are different than you, and embracing what sounds like a fun and loving relationship with you husband. YOU GO GIRL!

  4. Aubree says:


  5. missingjlink says:

    Nice essay, Ms Sayre; the freedom of which you speak is a spiritual one, really, and necessary for a full life… So good luck on discovering a new comfort zone!!! (I use the word advisedly; the whole idea of a "comfort zone" is spurious, since we have many comfort zones–even an exhibitionist needs privacy now and again…)

  6. Ryan Langemeyer says:

    Clara… you've got more courage than most people, based upon your willingness to post this nicely written piece of introspection.

  7. Del says:

    You've inspired me , Clara. You've changed the way I think about clowning around, for sure.

  8. Clara says:

    It's only been recently that I've started learning how to embrace my introverted nature, instead of condemning it as a weakness. And now that I'm getting to know all you clowns 😀 I'm slowly learning how to not take myself so seriously, which is HUGE for me. So thank you.

  9. Clara says:

    Thank you Candy! You're very much loved also…and I'm so glad to hear someone else has a balloon phobia (I was talking about that with a co-worker the other day and she was thrilled that I had the phobia too…she'd never met anyone else who did!)…I really do hate them.

  10. Clara says:

    You are one more person along the way who has inspired, Aubree, so THANK YOU!

  11. Adam Baker says:

    Well done, Clara – we love you, old friend, and are so very thankful for you and that clown guy of yours.

  12. Clara says:

    Thank you, missingjlink…and I agree about comfort zones. Mine have changed several times over my 32 years and I wouldn't have it any other way.

  13. Just Sage says:

    Being a professional entertainer, physical clown and so on I will admit I've embraced my penguin quite sometime ago as a child, I realized at a young age that I was very different than most kids and that no matter how hard I tried to be accepted I was still going to be picked on for being so different. Then I realized that I preferred to be different, I actually enjoy it, and now my actions and antics serve to bring smiles and laughter to crowds of people all over.

  14. Clara says:

    Ryan…thank you. Some of that courage I have is because of you. You are very much loved and missed!

  15. Clara says:

    Del! Thank you for commenting! If you ever decide to do any online writing courses, let me know…I miss your classes!

  16. Clara says:

    We are immensely thankful for the entire Baker clan too…though we have yet to meet two of the ladies in your fam, we love them just as much. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  17. Clara says:

    Sage, as I said to Alex, I owe a lot to you guys over this past year…I've always taken myself entirely way too seriously, which has kept me from living a fulfilling life at times. You and I have talked about this before….I love what you do, I have great admiration for it, and though I have no aspirations (at this point, as John would say) to be a clown myself, I am very appreciative of the warm welcoming we've received from the community so far…

  18. I believe everyone is an extrovert in some regard. Writing is obviously your outlet that steam rolls right over that penguin. I am one of those people who may not always feel comfortable on the inside in situations where I am in the public, but I have become an expert in faking it. Laughing it off does indeed go a long way. Nice article, Clara!!

  19. Clara says:

    Rachael…I do believe everyone has a little extrovert in them. I used to think that when I had to be extroverted, I was being untrue to myself…but now I realize it's a part of me, I just feel more natural as an introvert. Faking it and laughing it off are two traits that are invaluable!! I'm getting better. 😉 Thank you!

  20. deborahalvarez says:

    Loved the post, I always am striving to be balanced between intro and extrovert- tougher since my husband also leans more towards introvert. Having friends that can bring out the extrovert helps, as long as I can also climb into my private cave and decompress after an overload of social time. 🙂

  21. Guthrie says:

    Thank you, Clara! I think the world needs all the quiet, reflective souls it can get. I enjoyed this very much.

  22. Clara says:

    Yes! I've definitely found that I need downtime (I love that you describe it as a private cave…that's exactly what it is)…decompressing is essential.

  23. Clara says:

    Thank YOU, Guthrie…I agree. 🙂

  24. Jared says:

    I am happy to see you are writing Clara! I believe that is your true calling! Perhaps more people should embrace their inner penguin? Well done! Miss you guys.

  25. Clara says:

    Miss you too!!! Thank you!

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