I am imaginative and dedicated. And if I say anything else I’ll start sounding excessively egotistical. Hopefully this blog does not turn into me stroking my ego for 4 paragraphs. It could. I will try not to.

No promises.

That said, a healthy ego is pretty important for anyone to have. I consider myself to be a pretty realistic person, (a little doofy) but hardworking. I like myself and who I am, or at least, who I’m becoming because who knows what on earth I’m gonna be like in 4 years? I shudder to think!

(And by shudder I mean freely embrace age and the wisdom that comes with the many mistakes I shall undoubtedly make in the years to come. Oh yes.)

Which brings me to my next point.

I want to learn how to adapt. Right now, when I’m put in a situation I’m uncomfortable with I have a tendency to

A: Freeze up

B: Run away

C: Give up

Now, these are not good things. At all. I need to prepare and fail -spectacularly- so I can learn from my mistakes. I’ve said it a million times in these blogs but I’m gonna say it again; I’m here to learn every little inkling I can. Doing so requires a certain amount of willingness to accept ego bruising. Lots of ego bruising. Your-eyes-are-too-big bruising. I’m-not-so-fond-of-your-nose bruising. Did-you-know-that-your-left-foot-is-larger-than-your-right? bruising. The joys of working in a field that encourages bodily criticism! I have to be ready for it. I have to be stronger and keep my confidence and passion.

How to network, heck, how to COMMUNICATE, how to fundraise– those ideas are still pretty foreign to me. They can’t stay that way. Or rather, I won’t let them. I know SMU is good about teaching life skills, and hopefully will help me a lot with this.

I really am just excited to continue to figure stuff out. Hopefully I’ll learn a lot of new skills.

Elevator Pitch

Hello, my name is Joanna Coogan and I am not a person who is naturally talented at many things, but I know how to learn. I’m not afraid of practice, or rehearsal, or putting extra time into a show. I’m not afraid of working with other people, in fact I love it. I want to help make something great, and I will do whatever is needed on cast or crew to make that happen.


Ah motivation.

I’m typically motivated to do things when I’m doing things already. If I’m buzzing around attempting to get all my homework done then I’ll probably feel like drawing right in the middle of that.

I think 10% of my creative work is based on procrastination- I’m avoiding doing Pre-Cal so naturally I’m going to sit down and ponder the meaning of existence. Or maybe I’ll take up coding. Or write something. Yeah, poems are great I’ll do that. What Pre-Cal? Who’s that? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

The result?

Oh, Pre-Calculus

I see you sitting right there

I don’t want to work

 A haiku, by Joanna Coogan

I never said it was a good 10%.

See, when I avoid doing work, I wind up spinning my wheels and wasting all this time and energy worrying about what I SHOULD be doing rather than actually doing it.

And then I think about all the time I wasted not doing the work.

And all the time I wasted worrying about worrying about not doing the work.

And then I realize if I add up the time I’ve wasted and replace it with the amount of time I should be working I would’ve already finished the work…

…three times over.

It’s a spiral of sadness, my procrastination. It’s really best just to get the work done and not worry about it. It’s kind of a good thing to have procrastination guilt like I do, because typically it means I’m going to get as much work done as I possibly can.

I am motivated;

It’s just less of a elegant leap from activity to activity and more of a whining, slow, trod through a sketchy-looking swampland because my deep personal desire decided to manifest itself in intense, back-breaking guilt.

Hey, as long as it gets me moving.

I get ideas from watching other people. I’m working on being more observant to interesting things in life, and the natural movements on those around me. Which is kind of creepy, but hey, I’ve got to learn somehow. Sleeping also helps. If I have a clear head, ideas come a lot easier. I also get really motivated when I see other artists at work. If I see someone talented, I always want to try even harder to reach that point. Talented people are just wonderful.

I said earlier that my motivation tends to manifest itself in guilt, but that’s really only part of the pie. See, another part is the fact that I really want to learn. I touched (read: ranted) on this a lot in my previous entry. I love to learn about how other people work. I think it’s amazing and I want to be able to work alongside many people so I can learn as much as I can. I draw a lot of motivation from that.



I’m kind of a pile of anxiety. Or maybe a puddle would be the right word? A…bundle? I don’t know.

No wait.

That’s not what I’m getting at. I don’t want this to be one of those posts where I talk about how I’m a nervous, shy, person and theatre helps me come out of my shell. I mean, that’s kind of surface-area stuff.

I also don’t want this to be a post where I’m like, oh, I’m so quirky and different I bring a whole new perspective on life to the world! I may be shy but gosh-darn-it I’m adorable and pretty darn weird to boot!

Nonono. No.

That’s not me either.

People are composed of their values, and I like that about them. I like how complicated and weird life is. When I think about how everyone has their own separate consciousness worries, and aspirations it BLOWS my mind. I’ve passed over 400 people today! That’s 400 separate, isolated, glorious brains THINKING and worrying about what’s going on in the world around them. Then a plane will fly above me and I’ll think about the 100+ people in the plane all going to the same place for entirely different reasons still think think thinking away. All individuals.

All doing their own thing.

Every single day.

And that’s just like a little microscopic hunk of humanity there!

There are hundreds upon thousands upon MILLIONS of thinking people doing their things!

If that doesn’t just…make your head explode, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

I mean seriously.

That’s nuts.

The reason I’m talking about this, is most of my life, I’ve been keenly aware of other people.  I always want to know what people are thinking, what makes them work, what they’re passionate about and whether or not we think the same way.

I just think people are really interesting.

I want to connect with people, I want to be able to communicate how I feel effectively so that others can understand. I want to argue with others and I want to know why they feel the way they do. But I don’t want to sound like a cheesy speaker. I think that’s why I like to write so much. I mean, reading this through, it’s obviously not the best blog post and it lacks any literary merit. But I wrote it, and I’m voicing my thoughts even if they’re kind of dumb. That’s something. This is me, right here, on this page, comma-abuse and all! Isn’t that just the coolest?

I want to have a better vocabulary and I want to talk about things that matter to people. I want to help others somehow. I just don’t know how yet.


Work habits.

Ideally, I work like a juggernaut, and sleep like Rip Van Winkle.

Non-ideally, I just sleep, but we’re not going to talk about that.

Whenever I  memorize something, I need to rest. While this seems kind of counter-intuitive, it works.

I look over the script or monologue or whatever, analyzing it and repeating it until my eyes hurt and my dog is looking at me strangely. At this point I can (sloppily) say most of the dialogue without looking, and then I sleep. Whether it’s a nap or actually me turning in for the night it generally does the trick.

It’s always better when I wake up.  It’s like, when I wake up, all the lines wind up at the top of my brain, all perfect, eloquent, and memorized. It’s great! I’m like some sort of  line reciting robot with all these lines in my arsenal ready to be fired at people. I hardly have to think at all about what I’m saying.

And then it gets worse. Much worse. The lines, formerly all lined up slowly drift down my head toward my ear where they fall out. That’s the most discouraging part. I’m comfortable enough now though with this point, because it generally means I’m almost there. I said them once after all, so I just need to say them again. It helps if I grab them before they fall out by repeating them and repeating them and repeating them some more.

That’s the only way I seem to get them down.

I’m sure I’ll learn other techniques rather than my brute force memorization but sometimes I think that’s the only way to learn something. When you study you need to sit down and take the time to learn the material. When you know how the material works, then you can memorize it.

Memorization takes time and patience with both the book and with yourself. It’s important to be gentle on yourself. Anne Lamott says it best in her book Bird By Bird,

“Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.”

My History- or something akin to it

Writing about personal things like this is kind of difficult for me. Not because I don’t particularly like talking about myself, because I do. Rather, because I worry so much that I’ll seem egotistical and start to annoy people.

But now that I’ve started writing about myself, I might as well stop awkwardly pointing out my flaws and get to the point.

Automatically this makes me think of the scene in Zoolander where Derek stares at his reflection and asks,

“Who am I?”

His reflection looks back up at him and shrugs theatrically,

“I don’t know.”

(the scene: if anyone’s curious)

You see, that is me. That is me at this particular point in time, stumbling into college acting like I’ve got a plan while in reality, I don’t really know what I’m doing. That’s fine though! I’m 90% sure that I’ve still got a chance.

I mean, Derek was brainwashed to kill the prime minister of Malaysia and things still turned out fine for him!

You know, when I started writing this biography thing, I imagined it turning out differently, something classier and more professional-like. Probably with less Zoolander references. But what can you do?

Let’s try this again.

My name’s Joanna Coogan, I’m 18 years old, pale, and kind of lanky. I have two older sisters whom I care about a lot and two wonderful parents who have always encouraged me to be myself, even when that means being a little strange.

I value individuality a lot and I am a firm believer in being kind no matter the circumstances.

I have strong sense of morality, but I don’t consider myself to be a judgmental person. I strive to be open-minded and enjoy learning new things, even when they don’t necessarily agree with what I believe at the moment.  The nice thing about older siblings is they’ll tell you point-blank when you’re being an idiot about something. I’ve realized that everyone can be pretty darn stupid sometimes but we’re all just trying to figure things out. So it’s silly to sulk when you’re wrong about something because it’s just an opportunity to learn more.

Now I’m sounding like a self-help book or a long-winded inspirational poster so I’m going to drop that conversation thread right there and let it stew. Bam. Cool.

I’m a Theatre Studies major at the moment. I love acting and it’s been a part of my life for a while. I enjoy performing and making people laugh.


Acting is something that is learned, and to be honest, I feel like I haven’t learned enough to actually call myself an actor. I can read a script, and say the words loud enough to be audible, and I can kind of maybe capture something resembling the right emotion on a good day, but when I see true performers up on stage, just feeling and making the audience travel to wherever they are in their lives, I feel insignificant.

My acting seems a lot more like a game compared to that level of awesome.

I want to learn though. I want to learn how to write something like that, something that someone can use to make other people feel things.

Maybe I’ll wind up acting it.

Maybe I’ll wind up drawing it.

Or even directing it.

I don’t know. I just want to pick up every little piece of knowledge I can and make something beautiful with it someday.

I don’t have to be the star, I don’t mind not being in the spotlight. If I can point at a barrel stage right and say “HEY I MADE THAT” in my heart and know it’s part of something bigger than I am, that’s plenty for now. I just want to learn.

And that’s what college is for, right?