You’re a Person, Not a Product

*written in December*

I had a modeling job last week. LAUGH MY A** OFF. Me. Modeling. I can barely find decent pictures of me for this blog, that I post on twice a month. I just don’t like getting my picture taken. I like the idea of having nice photos of myself, but the process of getting them done? Blind panic, I mentally black out, and suddenly it’s over and I’m just sure I’ve messed it up. Trying to get better at it.

I even submitted myself for the gig thinking it was an acting position. Acting, I can do! I feel better in motion, like I’m not under the microscope because the frame will be replaced by another in less than a second. No freeze frames for me, thanks very much.

Imagine my surprise… but then I was already cast, so I rolled with the modeling! It was still incredibly fun and good to get back into the groove of entertainment, even if it wasn’t my preferred medium. It was a BLAST. One of the guys on set asked me how long I had been modeling, and I replied “oh no, I don’t do this, I’m actually a vocal coach!” But… why did I undermine myself like that? We were all there doing the same job…

A couple days later, I sat with the director and photographer after the shoot, had a beer, and admitted that sometimes I do photography too. Sheepishly. Self-depracating-ly. WHAT DID I MEAN, sometimes?! I’ve been paid so many times as a photographer! I filed it in my taxes! For goodness sake. Jadi.

And then I realized that this is the exact thing that’s been bothering me lately. The professional world wants us to be “something”. Preferably just one something. And if you dare to claim multiple “somethings” you better be top of your game at all of them, cause you’re being bold AF claiming multiple skills.

Okay maybe it’s not as threatening as all that, but it’s still there. I have been told that I should have an instagram account for my vocal coaching, separate from my personal one. And one for my blog. And for my photography. Sometimes I caved and listened to that advice. I tried to compartmentalize my life so that each account looked clean and shiny and straightforward. Professional. Branded. And that’s exactly what I was doing in these conversations at the photo shoots, too. This thought process wasn’t just in action on my social media accounts, it was bleeding into how I thought of myself.

It’s bizarre that while social media may have started to share our personal lives, it’s also become a power player in our careers. This may be the most integrated our professional and personal lives have ever been in history. George Washington didn’t have his every thought and move on display, in real time, you know?

I’m a human, though, not a brand. My instagram goes from coaching testimonials, to me on a mountain, to photos I’ve taken of beautiful places, snaps of Huckleberry, videos of my practicing songs, adventures with my dad, friends, family, memories of my mom. Posts about this blog. I want it that way.

I have been told that the key to my personal success, in ALL of these areas, is my humanity. My willingness to bring authenticity to the table. Shit, someone told me that last night. “I’m so in awe of your honesty and humanity.” (What a mind blowing compliment. Thanks Melanie! 😉) That may be the reason that you’re here reading my words right now. Why else would you be reading this?

So… why do we ask each other to pare ourselves down? To simplify our beautiful, complex lives. I mean, I’m not dumb, I get it. If we’re gonna work for ourselves, we gotta actually make money. And that means we need to draw in clients/customers/readers, etc. And that means we gotta be savvy. Branded.

I just… I can’t.

The reason you want me to give you voice lessons? Because I’m going to start the lesson by asking you how you’re doing. Because I am going to do my best to relate to you on a mental, emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual level. The only way, the only reason I can do that, is because of my wide breadth of experience and study. I’m going to use my theatre background. My songwriting and recording experience. My knowledge of the brain-body connection from being a dance teacher. My own grief and self development work to teach tenacity and perseverance. Grief made me lose my own damn voice, and I rehabbed it back on my own.

Believe it or not, these all play a role in the way our voices come out of our bodies. Singing is like… the humanity coming right out of you.

When I write for this blog, I use my artistry and other work as examples. All the time. I talk about my love for outdoor adventure, and half the time that’s what gets my writing gears turning in the first place. I skated on glassy, wild mountain ice in Glacier NP and stayed at a cabin on the lake last night. And now look at me, writing a post. 

The reason I started taking photographs? Because I realized that the photos we have of her in her last month will always be one of the most cherished things I have. 

Grief. Singing. Dancing. Acting. Photography. Adventure. Family. Now… modeling? HA! This may seem ADD but… well, I am, in fact, a creative with ADHD. So that’s pretty accurate!

I’m not an expert at all of these. But I was in the arena. Been there, done that. They all contribute to what I bring to the table. I’m not a brand. I’m a whole person leading a full life. So are you.

I don’t know how to proceed going forward. I know it makes sense to capture a client’s attention with simple, easy marketing. We’re already competing for their time amidst all the digital noise.

I just wonder if maybe I can prove that someone will want to work with me BECAUSE OF who I am and all that I bring to the table. Not in spite of it.

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