I wonder how many times in the last 11-ish years–and 1050 posts– I’ve started out by saying, “Holy shit, I’m exhausted.” I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’m pretty sure the last time I said it and really meant it was just after the last time I spent a few days with cameras in my face (uh, and then trying to buy a lot of property, and then spending a week
partying tiling with Sarah.)
I mean, I operate best on all cylinders… I like knowing that I’ve done all the things I could possibly do in a given day, and there’s a certain level of physical and mental fatigue that comes with that and actually feels good. Right? It feels like, oh-hell-yes-I kicked-some-ass-today-and-now-I’m-just-going-to-lay-here-on-the-kitchen-floor-with-a-glass-of-wine-because-that-shit-feels-good-and-also-I-probably-can’t-get-up-for-another-fifteen-minutes.
I like that feeling.
But this thing I’ve got going on right now? It feels like I’m not entirely sure that I’m not sick or on drugs, except I have no actual symptoms of being sick and I’ve legitimately never done a drug in my life. And yet, I’m so tired that that one of my coworkers told me I looked “frowny” yesterday, and I was like, oh, no, I’m not frowning, I just can’t work up the energy to make my face-muscles do the right things.
Yeah. That’s where I’m at.
I’ll tell you… this is my least favorite time to sit down and write because I’m not real good at giving myself grace when I’m exhausted. It feels a lot like laziness and I just want to be fucking over it and on to the next thing that I’m excited and energized about. But, also? Writing about what’s actually going on in my life– instead of pretending my life is something it’s not– that’s a real part of the way I process things. It’s part of the way I accept them. And it’s a real part of what’s important to me. Can I tell an authentic story about where I’m at right now without sounding whiny or entitled, or justifying everything I say? Is it important to talk about? Am I adding value by telling this story, or is this just plain and simple narcissism? Do people want to read this? Do I care if people want to read this? I have no effing idea, actually.
And, just so we’re clear, these aren’t questions I’m just asking myself about, you know, writing about my feelings and shit when I’m real tired, but also about this whole thing where I let people into my life to record the good, bad, and ugly of what goes on in my life for a weekend, and then… showing that to everyone. This is a part of what is weighing on me.
Here’s what I decided: I want to talk about my new laundry room shelves, and how I think the mudroom lockers are changing my life for the better, and how my dad convinced me I need to add a Colt M4 to my gun collection… but what I need to talk about is how I feel about all this being-on-camera shit.
This is how I feel about it.
On the Vulnerability Hangover
Yeah. That’s a thing. If you haven’t heard of them you clearly don’t obsessively watch Brene Brown videos (and, okay, also Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee) in the middle of the night when you have real bad insomnia, which, lucky you. Don’t rub it in.
I’ve gotten a lot better about getting actual sleep in the last couple of years, but I still occasionally find myself awake at 4 AM getting real introspective about shit, which has been a bad thing for my general alertness, but maybe a good thing in my ongoing quest to tell authentic stories.
For me it sometimes looks like this: I get an idea, stay up late one night with a bottle of wine and I’m compelled to write a post about something that’s particularly difficult or meaningful to me—maybe about a breakup, or something I struggled with, or my ex-eating disorder—and then I hit “post”, go to bed, and then wake up in the morning and think, “Well, fuck. Now that’s out there.”
I mean, I have a real job that I go to every day, and not only do a lot of my co-workers read this website, but some of our clients to do. Pretty much everything we’re told about life is that in order to be successful we need to project an image—a personal brand (gag me)—and god forbid that brand is accidentally taking a video of a mouse running around on your head while you have a fever. Um. Or whatever.
Vulnerability hangovers happen when we do or share something big. Something that is personal or scary or meaningful… or maybe when we just let our guards down for a minute and let people see the real, messy, unfiltered, un-curated versions of ourselves. Vulnerability hangovers happen after we get up in front of people and talk, or put something we care about on display for others to see, or even just have a night out with friends were we talk more openly about ourselves than usual. And then, of course, we wake up the next morning thinking, “Shit.” Right? Shit, I shouldn’t have shared that. Shit, I said too much. Shit, I let my guard down.
Here’s what I know… when it comes to telling authentic stories, I very rarely nail it. But when I do, I wake up the morning after I’ve hit “post” and think… Shit.
And I almost immediately want to undo it, then I take five minutes to breathe through that discomfort and I that’s when I realize that I’ve shared something that isn’t just funny, or “hey look I built something cool,” but a story that is truly authentic.
Turns out even if you’re working with awesome people doing awesome things, having cameras capturing the good, bad, and ugly of your life for 3 days is basically the recipe for the biggest vulnerability hangover ever.
Apparently vulnerability hangovers can’t be cured with a bloody mary (and awesome brunch buffet) either…
Which I definitely tried on Sunday.
But I’ll tell you that the best and most meaningful feedback I’ve gotten from posting things about my life online actually hasn’t come from the most beautiful before-and-after photos, or the projects I’m personally most proud of building… it comes from being human. From talking about the hard shit, and the real shit, and most of the things that make me go “Oh, shit,” after I post them.
I’m not sure if being on film will be the same thing because I really don’t have any control over what the final cut is. I get to let people in to my life, hope I’m telling the right story, and then hope they cut it into something that captures the real essence of who I am and what I do (even if that real story isn’t, say, marketable to big networks who want my life to contain more drama than it already does, which, frankly? You can fuck off, Big Networks… you try running a farm by yourself once and then come back and talk to me about “needing more drama” in my life.) Shit.
Still, this is a big risk, and it’s one that makes me a little sick with worry. What story is going to be told? How authentic will it be? Could I have been better about sharing what’s “real”?
And I guess I just have to wait to find out…
On Why I’m Even Doing This in the First Pace
I honestly don’t know, but here’s what I think… I think I’m both good and comfortable living my life and telling stories on this website through words and pictures. I’ve been doing this shit for a decade, it’s pretty much second-nature. I also have a desire to continue to push myself, both in what I do and how I do it. I watch a lot of YouTube channels (I don’t watch a lot of network shows because… no TV) but 1.) I see something there that’s both intriguing, (and also at times totally inauthentic) and, 2.) I wonder if it’s something I would be good at…
But, also, being on camera is not a comfortable or energizing experience for me. I mean, I usually have a blast when I’m working around the farm, building stuff, drinking beer, what have you… and occasionally I take pictures of what I’m doing, and then I tell a story about it later. And I feel good about all of that. Video/TV is a whole different ballgame. I’m constantly aware of the people around me watching me do what I do, I’m also constantly worried they aren’t getting what they need, and there’s a whole part of my brain that’s also trying to articulate what I’m doing in the moment (which I totally suck at… I’m way better at explaining and being introspective after the fact.) In general, being on camera basically burns me out realquick. Enough so that four days later my face-muscles are still exhausted.
There’s a weird dichotomy between pushing yourself out of your “comfort zone” and forcing yourself to do things you’re not good at, and, honestly, I don’t know which this is. Like anything else that’s new, I could just be stretching myself to learn new things and tell stories in different ways, and that’s hard. It’s both physically and mentally difficult to push yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes. Or, maybe this is not the right medium for me… I don’t know if there’s a real way to determine that other than to give it a shot. The guidelines I’ve set for myself are this: Do it more than once. Enough to know you’re not giving in to the discomfort that comes with learning something new, but don’t do it so long that if it’s a bad fit you make yourself miserable.
On Whether or Not it’s Fun to Be the Center of Attention
(My mom asked me this the day the crew left.) Uh… no. If you’re a myers-briggs person I’m an ISTP (literally any description you look up of an ISTP—often called “the craftstman” or “the mechanic”—describes me.)
Here’s just a short excerpt about ISTP’s that pretty much describes my exact feelings about building things in front of people (and cameras):
Normally, ISTPs will be thrown off in environments where they feel controlled by others, are not allowed to go with the flow of the moment… [they] like autonomy in work and are typically stressed by depending on or being in charge of the quality of another’s work. They also struggle in environments where they lack time alone to work, and/or where they are often immersed in emotionally charged environments.
Also, here’s one of those weird things I’ve gotten introspective about recently. There’s a huge difference in my mind between being proud of yourself for doing something, and being proud of what you did…. I absolutely have pride in my accomplishments, okay? I’m not a fan of false-modesty, and I believe wholeheartedly in celebrating our individual successes. I know that I’ve done some awesome things, but I also don’t think I’m able to do those things because I’m somehow unique or different–the things I do are sometimes awesome, but I’m personally impressed by the things themselves, not the person who made them.
Sometimes I feel like the cameras and the story they’re telling are supposed to be about me being special and unique and that’s why I live on a farm and build a bunch of shit, but… no. I’m special and unique as a human (as we are all) but anyone who is energized by or interested in this type of work could do what I do, as long as they believe in themselves. The amazing thing isn’t being me, or trying to be like me, the amazing thing is being yourself. Figuring out what you can do as a person… and I don’t think that should be measured against what anyone else can do as a person. Inspired by? Yes. Encouraged by? Definitely. But not measured against. I don’t want to be a part of the “not enough” culture. The one that shows perfect lives in instagram photos, perfect bodies on magazine covers, perfect projects on HGTV. (None of which are fucking real, by the way.) I don’t ever want people to look at me and say, “I’m not enough because I’m not that.” I want people to look at me and say, “Holy shit… I didn’t know it was possible for a woman to do that– and it looked messy and difficult and altogether like a pain in the ass–but you know what? If that girl can do it, I sure as hell can do it too.”
So there’s a huge amount of mental/emotional energy going in to thinking about how these videos could be the opposite of the story I want to tell, even though I don’t have any control of it at this point.
On The Kind of Person I Want to Be
Okay, so this post is already over 2100 words and I feel like only 1 in 30 people are only going to get this far into it, which? Fair. This is a lot of rambling. But I also think this is a real important thing I’m going to say. First: I’m a fucking horrible actress. Like, at one point Roberto looked at me and said, “Look at the camera and tell us you mom just texted you and it on her way up to the farm” and I literally froze in place– deer-in-headlights-style– couldn’t talk without stuttering, and then started profusely sweating. (Even though technically my mom had texted me earlier and was coming up to the farm later, so it wasn’t even a lie.)
That’s where I’m at on the “acting” spectrum. And he actually told me not to worry about it because I’d get better doing this over time, but… here’s a real thing…
I don’t know if I want to get better at it.
I mean, I want to be awesome at telling stories in all kinds of mediums. But I want them to be authentic stories. I don’t know if I want to get comfortable with looking at the camera and telling an inauthentic story. Just, in general, in my life, I want “being inauthentic” to be so goddamn uncomfortable for me that I break out in a sweat. I that I’m close to tears. That any time someone asks me to tell a story that doesn’t feel real to me, I can’t even bring myself to do it because even if my brain is like, oh, we should totally do this for the shot, my body is like fuck no, this isn’t what we do.
I do not want to become desensitized to telling an inauthentic story.
I know how to speak authentically through words on this website. I started this post 3 different times (in 3 different ways), and wrote an additional 1500 words that didn’t make it into the final draft… Because when it comes to words and pictures online, I do understand what’s real and authentic. I understand that there’s a lot of things I can say, but not all of them make the final cut, and that makes it better in the end.
But I honestly don’t know anything about having cameras in my face. I don’t know the best way to tell an authentic story in the moment. I don’t have time to reflect on what is posturing or doing things for the camera, and what’s actually real. And I don’t have any control over what you’ll see in the end. I have to have a lot of trust in other people, and, well, all of this weighs on me.
All I can say is this… I’m going to try things that are outside of my comfort zone. I’m not going to give up after one or two times because they aren’t easy (I’ve done enough hard shit to know that it doesn’t always come easy right away) but I’m also aware of the stories I’m telling– or allowing to be told– and I hope they are as authentic and meaningful as anything else I’ve put on this website in the last ten years.
And if it’s not, I won’t do it.
But in the meantime, I’m going to try it, and it’s going to exhaust the shit out of me. And I guess that’s part of the real-life adventure too, and I ought to be authentic about it which means you’re going to get 2700 words on how exhausted I am, and how much I’m worrying about the end-result of all of this… but, you know, in the end, at least it’s real.
(And seriously? Next up will be posts on building shelves and lockers and guns. Because I’ll talk about it when I have to, but I’m officially about over all of this feelings shit…)