Vox arboribus (or: why does everything need a clickbait title?)

I tend to spend an inordinate time comparing myself to other people.  I always wonder why I have fewer followers on Instagram than other performers of my rank (“rank”), or performers who have been around as long as me, or whatever.  I feel like I talk about this subject so much, it must seem like whining.

I’m trying to veer away from contextualizing myself as whiny.  I’m also trying to veer away from contextualizing myself as… pretty much everything I’ve self-identified as for the last several years.  Whiny.  Needy.  Lazy.  Inferior.  I’ve come to fundamentally define myself as damaged because I just can’t figure out how to play the game correctly.  So much of being successful seems to be learning how to be self-aggrandizing, but not too self-aggrandizing, how to be effortlessly social and interested in people you’ve been set up to be jealous of, how to pretend to be interested in every inane question some rando wants to ask you onstage/offstage/online/sliding into your DMs.

And so much of being successful is learning how to advocate for yourself, when the world fundamentally does not care about you.  We always talk about burlesque being such a weird art form because, in one sense, every one of us has to be famous.  But in another sense, not a single one of us is actually famous, with the very possible exception of literally just Dita von Teese.  There isn’t a single one of us out here hustling whose name alone can generate sustained ticket sales.

It’s frustrating to me when people tell me (and you all tell me all the time) that I just do so much.  It’s frustrating because I can’t see it, and it’s frustrating because it doesn’t seem to make a damn bit of difference anyway.  Maybe I do, I have no idea.  But none of it has been for my own good, at any point, ever, and it shows.  I sit here and make costumes for Vaudezilla for free because I think they should have a present for being nice enough to employ me for the last 9 years, but I can’t finish an act I conceptualized in May?

I spend all my time going what about me? But the reality of the situation is that literally nobody is going to give me a cookie because I don’t give myself cookies.  What about me? What about you?  I’ve demonstrated to everyone in my life that I don’t think I should be important or a priority, and then I’m apparently confused why nobody else sees me as important or a priority.

I’m not exactly sure how to radically change my relationship to myself, but I very much want to try.  And it starts by contextualizing myself as… important, and a priority, and worthy of the attention and success that I keep striving for.

…Partially on that note, and partially because I just really love the photos from this session, all the accompanying images on this post are from Michael Cabrera.

I remember loving these images, and they really encapsulate the kind of work I love making and the level of photographer I want to collaborate with.  I’m sharing them again to remind others, but also to remind myself that this is what I’m capable of, that it doesn’t have to be some kind of beautiful, impossible dream that exists only in brief moments of time.  That this could be my entire life, if I really wanted it to be, and aligned my belief in the possibility.



P.P.S.  Vox Arboribus means “the voice of trees” and is the name of that weird little paragraph-long musing about Twin Peaks and Ben Horne that I posted on Facebook earlier this week.

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