I was recently embroiled in texting battle with an extreme avoidant, whereby I tried to solidify a plan, and he tried to dodge one. Do not try this at home! It never turns out well. (Pro Tip: the person who wants less always wins.)
Anyhoo! In the midst of all that excitement last week, I got an email from Jessica Sutherland, the Marketing Director of the website The Establishment, asking for testimonial videos from writers to screen at their fundraising event in Seattle this Sunday.
This is something I would normally file under Want to Do, But Not Going to Do. I used to be an actress (ask me about the beer commercial I starred in that aired in Holland!), and in my prime I even hosted a Manhattan Cable television show for which I interviewed celebrities and Real People, just like us. But these days, I tend to shy away from the camera. And through the years I've neglected to go for some potential opportunities in the limelight.
Mostly I think this is because I don't mind the limelight IF I CAN CONTROL EVERYTHING ABOUT HOW I PRESENT MYSELF AND HOW I'M PERCEIVED. Which is, you know, impossible, and highly stressful to even try. The loss of control involved in being on film (as opposed to hiding out safely behind a blog, where I can carefully craft and edit and polish and CONTROL, for example) is pretty scary. And at the moment I can't afford to buy a new camera-ready wardrobe and hire a stylist and makeup artist and videographer and editing team and entourage in general, in order to project a perfectly polished image to the world.
Lately, people have been talking a lot about BEING VISIBLE. So much so that it's become an irritating and kind of meaningless buzzword; after all, we're all visible, right? We're not in-visible. But if you get past the annoying buzzword-iness of it, there's a lot of truth to the fear of being visible, and taking "refuge" in its opposite: hiding. A lot of artists and creatives and even Real People are embroiled in such a battle: the desire to be visible vs. the fear of doing so. The need to come out of hiding vs. the need to hide.
Even when I CAN afford to hire an entourage, I still will never, ever be able to totally control how I present myself and how I'm perceived. I could go on a morning talk show and someone in my entourage could neglect to mention that I have food in my teeth! Anything's possible.
So with this in mind, I decided to say, "Fuck it!" and shoot a messy, imperfect, un-styled, un-edited video, and enjoy it! To just be playful and easy-breezy with it and have fun. (Note: I am NOT easy-breezy.)
On Sunday afternoon I sat down on the floor in the corner of my apartment, and shot three takes. The first one was a practice run; the second one felt warm and real; for the third one I experimented with the lighting and it was TOO BRIGHT and NOT FLATTERING.
But back to warm and real: I liked the second one! I liked it!!! As I watched it several times, I could think of a million (approx.) things I wanted to change about it. I could deliver some lines differently! I could try to do something about my messy ponytail! I could make it more perfect!!!
As I had these thoughts, I watched them float across my perfectionistic mind, and resisted the impulse to give into them, because I knew that that would lead nowhere good. It would lead to hours and hours of trying more takes, obsessing over achieving some elusive state of perfection. It would lead to delivering the lines less warmly and less real-ly, to stilted, scripted-sounding words and stiff takes. It would lead to squashing absolutely all the fun out of my little breezy Sunday afternoon project.
Also worth noting is that this is my first public appearance with my very visible gray roots, as I'm growing out my gray per my recent Allure.com article (maybe I shouldn't shoot any videos until my hair is all grown out in a year? Or until I reach the stage where I can wear my hair down without having to worry about that ROOT LINE? Or until I cave and get highlights? Or until, or until, or until...!!!) As my wise and wonderful hair stylist (and future member of my entourage) says in my article about growing out gray: "You have to be comfortable with who you are. You gotta be like, 'Fuck it, I am who I am.'" (Not sure how long this will last! But for now I'm feeling very 'Fuck it'-y.)
Anyhoo! Please watch my experiment in being real and messy and imperfect above (but not that messy and imperfect, and still cute, obvs). I'm happy to report that I did NOT squash all the fun out of it and it was super-fun! It was so fun that I might start making messy videos ALL THE TIME. I might even become that annoying person in your Facebook feed who's always going Live!
But back to this video: in it I talk about the catharsis of writing my satire piece, "If People Had Honest First Date Conversations," for The Establishment, the response it got, and how I still, sigh, heart those avoidant men.