Being Yourself


2013-03-13 – They tell you to be yourself. In some ways this is good advice. You don’t have to remember anything special to be yourself. And you’re probably pretty good at it.

They told me that today.

Today I was shooting video for one of the online courses I am responsible for in my job. The problem with that advice is that, if I was myself, I would have walked away from the job. My SELF doesn’t make videos. I’m a writer. I sit at a desk. No one watches me. No one records what I do. Being myself was poor advice for making videos.

The thing is: whenever you do something new, you are redefining your SELF. So, for today, I was really being someone else. Trying on a new way of doing things. If it worked out (it did), then I begin a process of incorporating the new skill into a new version of my SELF. Video star I am not. Not today. But I am closer to it than I was yesterday.

One skill I am in the process of acquiring is the ability to gesture.

Now this may sound ridiculous. Everyone can gesture, you think. When I was in high school, though, I thought it was cool to be very deadpan about my feelings (it’s funny, you know). So I practiced. And I got good at it. My SELF sits on his hands. (My butt keeps them nice and warm. My wife Kit always says I have warm hands.) But sitting on your hands makes the video pretty stiff looking.

So I practiced gesturing. I looked at videos to see how my favorite TV personalities used their hands. And the practicing worked! Not only can I now gesture when I recite my script, but I also seem to be gesturing spontaneously when I talk. The question is: can I keep it up?

So that was a win from today’s proceedings.

But I still have a ways to go. For one thing, my facial expressions are kinda deadpan. I need to wipe a smile onto my face. (It can be an evil smile. Remember, I’m supposed to be myself.)

Also, I can read a script from a teleprompter with feeling. But how far is that going to get me? Yes, I know about President Obama. But I get rattled if something happens to make me go off script. I can recite a script. I can speak entirely without a script. But if I have a script but get lost, I’m totally stuck. I’m not kidding.

But one step at a time. At least now, when you say “be yourself” you’ll get a guy who can do gestures.

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