I’ve got two rules that I live by and I’ve been sharing them a lot in conversation with people, so it’s time I share them here.
When people find out about the work that I do as a model, pole dancer, and a burlesque performer, one of the reactions that’s really common is concern for my safety. It’s a totally valid concern, but it’s also one of the reactions that causes me a lot of frustration. I’ve worked as a stage manager and a house manager for years. I’ve been in charge of evacuating audiences and offices in case of emergency. I’ve dealt with plenty of crisis situations and I’m a woman who’s lived in the city alone, for goodness sake. Safety is my number one priority. I’ve been put in a lot of compromising situations throughout my live, so I do my damnest to not walk into them (or at least walk into them prepared) as often as possible.
Rule #1: Don’t be a Dumbass.
This is my golden rule. It’s a mixture of forethought and awareness, and I use this rule in every aspect of my life, every day.
Going on a shoot with a new photographer? Don’t be a dumbass, have an on call buddy.
Walking home late at night? Don’t be a dumbass, walk with purpose on well-lit streets and duck into a public place if someone is tailing you.
Managing a show and a performer gets injured? Don’t be a dumbass, a person’s health is more important than a show.
Know that your schedule is packed for the next three days? Don’t be a dumbass, batch cook your meals NOW. (Your future self and your bank account will thank you later).
It’s a deceptively simple rule, kind of like using common sense, but I think this rule takes more than that. You have to be two steps ahead of yourself and (when possible) everyone else. It’s constantly asking questions of your circumstances for your own good.
Okay, then what happens?
Am I familiar with that area?
Who can I call?
Do I have enough information to take a calculated risk?
Don’t be a Dumbass is also a lot of trusting my gut. If I have a bad feeling about something I just straight up don’t do it. And it’s scary how often I’m right. You don’t always need intellectual evidence to not want to do something or to know that something isn’t the right move. Sometimes you just know. It’s hard to listen to your intuition like that at first, (and to know the difference between intuition and shit like anxiety and paranoia) but once you get a handle on it, it can be a life saver.
All of this is true because of Rule #2: People are Idiots.
Now, I’m not saying this to be mean. We are all capable of doing some really, really dumb shit. I’m guilty of being an idiot. Shit happens, we don’t always think shit through–fuck, sometimes we are just plain wrong.
To me, these two rules are cyclical. At the top of the circle, and at the top of your game, there’s Not being a Dumbass, and down at the bottom there’s Being an Idiot. You have to work hard at Rule #1 in order to stay out of Rule #2. It’s a sisyphusian effort. I’m not always successful. Sometimes I am an idiot.
And, the more I think about it, People are Idiots is less about shaming other people for their less-than-thought-out behavior than it is a constant check of my own. I do not want to bring idiotic behavior to my friends, collaborators, and coworkers. I owe it to them to not be a Dumbass. That’s just good work ethic.
So, those are the two rules I live by. Two sides of the same coin to keep my awareness up and my hustle strong. I hope you might find them useful (or at least amusing) too.