But the east coast, where I grew up, certainly carries those affectations.
There is SOME virtue in this way of being, of course.
But it can also be heavy-handed.
I’m more gentle with myself these days.
But there has been a hangover from it that is much harder to shake:
I do not like it when people worry about or fuss over me.
If I required fussing, I must be doing something wrong or revealing myself as short of self-sufficient.
At least, that’s how the story goes in my head.
I’ve gotten better with this, too.
I have a team now.
And to call them helpful would be like describing the sun as slightly bright.
And their most prominent piece of feedback in our initial months together?
“Let us help you.”
So, I do.
It would be impossible to write this letter, record podcasts, make music, play shows, and be a half-decent parent without a group helping to make all of those things happen.
But this week, my squirminess was confronted on a new level.
I was in Toronto from Sunday- Wednesday to shoot my second-ever music video.
The first one, a hilariously ill-informed attempt at Christmas rap, does exist in the annals of YouTube if you want to see where we started. And no, I will not provide you with the link – you have to work to delight in my embarrassment.
This one, however, was full-blown.
Due to fortunate circumstances, I found myself on a proper film set. It was piled high with rented equipment – lights, jibs, and sandbags – and a faithful crew of humans to support us all day.
It was a 12-hour day, 7 am – 7 pm, which is merciful compared to what they can be on specific shoots and projects.
As the penman and performer of the song, I was under the bright lights all day long.
But that wasn’t the piece of the day that challenged me.
Shaina was the makeup artist for the set. But I was the only person on set. So she was a makeup artist for me. Just me. For 12 hours.
My need for a makeup artist will become more evident when you see the video (spoiler, there was both “let’s make you a little more pretty” makeup and some specific effects we created using makeup.
But that was her whole job.
For the whole day.
If it feels like I’m trying to overemphasize the point, I want to clarify that this idea was anathema to me.
She kept me looking and feeling like $1,000,000 all day, with nothing other than a genuine smile and animated conversation.
I could feel myself trying to overcompensate – I must have thanked her 150 times throughout the day for everything she was doing.
But eventually, I remembered that the best gift you can give to anyone is your presence, your ears, and your heart.
So, I just asked more questions about her and how she was doing. I allowed her to be seen as a human as she saw me as an artist trying to make something meaningful.
And when I hugged her after 12 long hours, I knew she could feel my appreciation.
When the shoot was done, I reflected on the discomfort. Was it that I felt I was undeserving of the support or attention? Or couldn’t see myself providing support for someone so patiently and selflessly? Was this the first moment of me butting up against the ambitions I have named and sought for years but never considered attainable?
I don’t fully have the answer to that.
But at a more macro level, I am outrageously grateful to sit in these questions. I am grateful that I get to confront more of my stories about what things could/should/must look like while I’m wordsmithing my way through life.
I’m grateful to Shaina.
I’m grateful to Jerremy, KC, Teagan, and the whole crew, who supported us all day.
And I’m grateful to you.
For being here.
For reading this.
And for taking a step toward curiosity about the stories in your life.