A lot of parenting is storytelling about your own life.
Kids are endlessly curious about who you are and how you got to be that way. Or, at least, my kid is.
She also sometimes needs to be reminded that the seemingly all-knowing parental units she trusts to answer her questions and organize her life didn’t emerge from the sea on a clam shell, fully-formed.
Recently, this has resulted in a lot of storytelling about how I got to be the me shows knows. A lot of that relied on me doing the thing.
“Doing the thing” is how I think about anything that I self-started without a nudge from adults or mentors in my own life. It’s personal entrepreneurship. Pure hustle. Unfiltered desire.
That’s how I got started performing on stage. No one encouraged me to audition for my first play. No one coached me on my monologue for my first audition. I wanted that for myself so just did the thing.
That’s how I became a musician. I begged for months for a guitar, which resulted in my receiving the cheapest, barely-tunable acoustic guitar that could be had. I had a few initial lessons. Then I did the thing. I taught myself “Ziggy Stardust.” I wrote my own songs. I put on concerts to an audience of no one in my living room.
That’s how I started this blog! No one ever asked me to do it or taught me how. I signed up for Blogger.com one day in August of 2000 and did the thing. I learned PHP because I didn’t like how Blogger organized its archives.
I could go on self-mythologizing, but CK picks things up from there. I got my minor in music, became an a cappella arranger and singer, a band leader, a comic guide curator, and made the jump to working in tech, among many other things no one else ever encouraged me to do.
I don’t deny that I relied on privilege to get into some of those situations, or that I had the support of peers once I starting doing the things. I had a stable enough home life that I could focus on wanting to be a performer. Family members bought me that first guitar and the computer I launched this blog with. Gina was there at that first theatre audition. Sara taught me to read sheet music over the phone the summer of 1998.
There were also a lot of things I wanted to do that I just couldn’t figure out how to start on my own. There are things I wanted to do that required cooperation or support that never materialized. But those undone things are distant memories. My history is written by the me who succeeded, not the me who failed.
Eventually “doing the thing” became about jump-starting new things with friends, like organizing Lyndzapalooza with Lindsay and starting a cover band with Ashley. E and I moving to New Zealand was yet another example of doing the thing.
As I’ve recounted some of these things to the kid, I’ve been amazed by my past self. I would leap blindly into a new endeavor with the full belief that I could figure it out if I tried hard enough.
Having that unflinching self-belief is a privilege.
But doing the thing – sticking with all these things for all these years – is all my own.