In 2013 we did a crowdfunding campaign for HeartStories. It was a learning experience in every way.
I’m already a pretty passionate person, but I had just quit my corporate sales job to devote all my time to HeartStories and I was fired up! It was the full court press. I thought we would to blaze out of the gates and the whole world would instantly latch on to our idea.
I knew a creative and impactful short film was the most important part of the crowdfunding campaign. So I found the most talented team of creative people I could to make it and I trusted their every word.
Maybe a little too much.
I loved the concept they came up with for telling our story because it wasn’t just me, sitting in front of a camera the entire time. We planned for days and brought in several other women to share parts of their personal stories. I’ll never forget my final instructions from a gal on the team:
Okay, great. See you tomorrow. Hey Crystal, one more thing. When you come for the shoot tomorrow, please don’t look like “you”.
As I just typed that, my palms got sweaty and remember how I felt in that moment. Huh? What?
What do you mean?
Well, you know, like maybe don’t fix your hair quite so much. Don’t wear big jewelry. Maybe dial back the makeup and the lashes. Can you take those things off? Oh, and wear like a light blue or beige shirt. It’s just that if you really want women to relate to you, you’ve got to look like everyone else. You just need to look a little more “relatable”.
I said OK and hung up. I was kind of stunned. I never realized I wasn’t relatable. I was the one who found the girl alone in the lunch room to sit with. I always try make an extra effort to be friendly to people even if they don’t seem to like me. (There’s SO much more to the story of my learning from this moment, but for today let’s just focus on the outcome.)
I did it.
I didn’t understand why, it didn’t feel like me, and I didn’t think it was a good idea to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. But I did it anyway because they were the “experts” and I trusted them. I showed up at the studio in a jean dress with flat, straight hair and subdued make up.
They coached me on how to talk with less energy and it required what felt like a million takes. I was so nervous my chest turned bright red. It was a hard and frustrating experience, but we got through it.
When I saw the first rough cut of the film, I just sat there.
I sat there thinking, This isn’t the feeling I wanted to create. This isn’t the feeling of HeartStories. It’s our message, but it sounds so sad. It’s not the fun, full-of-life, hopeful story I want to tell.
It didn’t look like me. It didn’t have my heart and my passion.
We ended up making some edits to make it a little more “cheerful”, but it just couldn’t get there. We used it for the first few days of the campaign and it was a huge flop. The video that ended up bringing our campaign to success, was one I shot myself, in my living room, with my phone propped up on a ladder.
What I learned?
1. I’m always going to look like me. I won’t ever try to play a part that isn’t true to who I am, no matter who someone else thinks it might help.
2. I trust my intuition more than someone else’s experience.
3. It’s good to know how others see me, for the perspective it brings. I can use that information to make me more of the things I already aim to be, like kind, generous, fun and loving.
4. My friend in the studio was totally right, for her. She was trusting her intuition based on her story and where I fit into it. That’s good for me to remember.
5. Always bring a friend along. I think I would’ve had a complete meltdown in the studio if my BF wasn’t there, making me laugh in between takes and cheering me on. (photo credit to her for the first pic!)
This is a hard story for me to share. It makes me feel naked and exposed. It still hurts to realize that other people’s perceptions of me can be so different than what I know to be true.
But it’s worth it.
It’s worth it if you remember it as you go about your life and creating your art.
It’s worth it if it reminds you to listen to your heart and trust yourself and your experiences as you create good in the world.
Other people want to help you. They have the very best intentions, but they don’t have your heart, your mind and your experiences to draw from.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to look like you, talk like you and be you.
When you do, the people you are meant to serve will hear your message and it will change them for the better.
Exactly the way you intend to.
To more Love!
P.S. Here’s the link to that video if you want to watch me sweat it out. 😉