Portrait Project

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Tanya Khakbaz

Say yes.

When I was an undergraduate, I took an improvisation class on a whim. It completely changed my life. Improv has only one rule: say yes. Say yes to the scene that your actors are building with you, embrace their offers and build on them. Creating a story from scratch with another person is hard — but it is so worth it.

I used to be the devil's advocate, constantly challenging the facts around me. It made me a good student, but an imbalanced soul. Maybe it's because as an economist I'm used to weighing costs and benefits. Maybe it's because in Portuguese we often start our sentences with an instinctive "no..." even though we may agree.

Say yes.

Before learning to say yes, I never would have looked up from the beaten path to leave my job and circle the globe for seven months. Some of my most meaningful and memorable life experiences have come from letting go of inhibition.

Say yes, even when I am not sure if I will succeed. Say yes, even when I don't know the person I am helping. Say yes, even when others say I'm too old.

Say yes.

— Tanya Khakbaz