#GOALS: Improviser Marlee Grace
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Dancer Marlee Grace has two voices in her head: Gloria and Roger
Marlee Grace is the author of the book How to Not Always Be Working, and is known for her self-help practice dancing/improv videos on her Instagram. She gives YR Media’s Nyge Turner and Merk Nguyen advice on how to chill out and talk to the two people (Gloria and Roger) all of us have living in our heads.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media’s Adult ISH podcast (episode 3 – Life ISH).
Nyge: Marlee’s a writer and improviser known for her dancing videos on IG. But these aren’t your typical dancing videos, are they Marlee?
Marlee: They’re not your typical dancing videos. They are anywhere from a beautiful ocean at sunset, to me dancing to Justin Bieber and being very dedicated to it.
Nyge: You have a book called How to Not Always be Working. Sounds pretty self-explanatory but can you give us a little rundown on what it’s about?
Marlee: Yes. The point is not how to work a bunch before you’re 28 and then retire. It’s literally about how do we all commit to taking breaks and resting? There’s a page where I joke that the book could have been one page that just says, “Turn your phone off, go outside, and don’t tell anyone you did it.”
Nyge: Yeah, that’s kind of the age we live in. You have to document all of your experiences. And that’s why we’ve got you here today to help us reach our #chilloutgoals.
Merk: So, sometimes I feel like I’m overwhelmed by how much I have to do. I graduated recently and now I live in New York City. It’s great, but I’m in my twenties figuring out how to have a long-distance relationship with my partner and my family. So a big part of me knows it’s all going to be fine. But then there’s that other voice in my head that’s like “You can’t do this.” How do you suggest getting that [voice] out of my head?
Marlee: I just turned 30, so it’s really sweet hearing you talk about being in your twenties. I remember what that was like eight weeks ago. You know, I think I have two voices. One I named Roger and one I named Gloria. Gloria’s a powerful businesswoman. Roger is an asshole. [He’s] usually like, “You’re gonna fail, so why even start?” I used to be so sad and like, “Roger’s right. I have failed so many times. Might as well not start.”
But then I just sort of started greeting Roger and was like, “Hey man. Thanks for stopping by but me and Gloria are going to take care of this over here.” Long story short, making them into characters helps me.
Nyge: So, there’s this thing called F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out). We all have felt that at times on Snapchat, Twitter, and stuff like that where we see all of our friends being super cool and showing how important they all are. When you see your friends living that way, that makes you kind of compare yourself to them. My question is: do you feel like phone addiction is a real thing and what should you do about it?
Marlee: [On my dancing Instagram account], generally when I’m dancing to pop music and people are like, “Oh my god! You’re having so much fun,” [that video] is a day I have just cried and haven’t left the house. So, I put that music on. It’s interesting that a lot of times when I’m showing myself feeling extreme joy, [it’s actually] me getting out of something that’s actually very dark. Being addicted to your phone has an emotional [aspect]. Good job Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. None of us can put our phones down or live our lives anymore.
Merk: Even when it comes to doing things that aren’t supposed to be stressful, there are moments where I feel there’s not enough time to do all the things I want. How should I go about dealing with those kinds of anxieties and fears?
Marlee: Little recharges: remembering to pack water, remembering to pack snacks, tapping into different herbs that can be calming. There’s a lot of different things we can do to slow our days down and it kind of goes back to the phone. Just turn your phone off.
Nyge: I tried to get Merk on meditating.
Marlee: I talk about this in my book too. I’m like, “Try meditating for one minute. Try for 10. Do it for an hour.” With all this, it’s just about experimenting. It’s a mind game that “I don’t [think I] have 10 minutes a day.” You do have 10 minutes.
Nyge: You’ve talked about Roger and how Gloria’s your girl, but what are some other positive things you can tell yourself to combat Roger?
Marlee: I listen to certain artists who are maybe in a different tax bracket than I am, but they just love their lives. They love being powerful and successful and they love their friends. I think that’s less of something I say to myself but more of an action I do. Again, the Roger voice is like, “You aren’t deserving of success.” Sometimes you just [got to] flip the sentence. “I am deserving of success.” My hope is I can then redistribute that success to people who I believe in.