If you ask her, my Mum will laugh as she tells you about the aforementioned phrase and the importance of its meaning to me, when as a toddler I took some of my first steps to verbally assert myself.
I can’t even remember what it was I thought I could do on my own without her. It was probably putting on my own skirt or attempting to pour myself a glass of juice or something. I’m not sure what it was, but I can imagine she dealt with it as she usually dealt with a lot of my requests back then - with a bloody great sense of humour and a lot of patience when, as predicted I took twice as long doing my buttons up in the wrong order and so having to start the process again, and/or not content with pouring my own glass of OJ, proceeding to tip a large amount of the bottle’s contents all over the the kitchen table.
All in the name of independence.
I am really lucky to have had someone so understanding of my bizarre misperceptions of what it means to ‘do it yourself’. Anyone less accommodating may have thrown in the towel saying something like ‘Sure! Why don’t you just go and do that then!” ..thereby leaving me to it.
But not my mum.
Thinking back to my three-year old self and my desire to attain autonomy at the time, I pose my younger self the question - What was I really saying by insisting on pouring my own juice?
My answer?… I don’t need your help.
Although apparently I did, because no-one but me had juice that day.
See, as an adult I have had the same notions about my success as an artist (clearly I didn’t learn my lesson the first time) and I’ve noticed similar behaviour in myself as an adult, particularly regarding my obsessive need to assert myself as an individual artist, standing out from the rest, needing to prove to the world I’ve got this! even when it’s meant something takes me years instead of months, even when it’s meant a great deal of stress and loneliness working on my own versus building an extended network of passionate friends to help & assist with a bunch of stuff I could’ve easily avoided punishing myself over.
The happy end to all this is that I’m beginning to see sense in letting other people pour the juice so to speak.
The older I get and the more I work at my own skill-set, the more comfortable I am about not having to know how to do everything, and to concentrate on positioning myself to be willing to help others should they need what I’m great at.
This idea of having to do everything myself is one that has severely stunted me in my earlier years as an emerging artist and continues to rear its ugly head if left unchecked, so I’m checking myself. I’m checking myself today through this blog, I’ll check myself the next time I feel my knuckles tightening around my next project when I consider that I might not have all the tools necessary to make it as amazing as it could be with more hands on deck and I’ll probably be checking myself for years to come.
Because put simply, when you have other trusted supporters and collaborators, whether these be bandmates, fellow artists, family & friends who believe in what you do enough to come see it, or anyone else who turns up to say they like what you do so they bought a ticket to your show or they read your thing or they forwarded it onto their mate, you can no longer count yourself as a sole operator. You are now a part of a thriving community of awesomeness known as genuine humanity should you choose to participate.
Welcome to the club.