Later this week, I’m taking a road trip up to Wheeling, WV, to meet the rest of the members of The Rustic Mechanicals, the Shakespeare company I joined last summer, for a long weekend of performances and other events to commemorate the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday (and death) on April 23.
As the company’s dramaturge, it’s my job to help the cast and crew better understand the text and context of the script for each show, which means that I do my work behind the scenes, long before the performances ever take place.
It’s basically a combination of literary analysis, research, and teaching, three things I’ve done quite a bit in my life, but my familiarity (and comfort) with the basic components of the process didn’t make me any less nervous about my first presentation to the company last summer. I had a basic idea of the general topics our director and producer wanted me to include in my presentation, but he hadn’t given me any specific guidelines beyond that. (Since it was my first time working with the group, I’m not sure either one of us knew exactly what to expect from the process.)
The one thing he did tell me, however, was this: “You do you.”
In some ways, it almost sounds like a brush-off, but that isn’t how he meant it.
In a lot of ways, it was probably the most affirming, freeing thing he could have said to me. With those three words, he let me know that he trusted me and that he wanted me just to be myself when I presented my work to the rest of the company.
“You do you.”
It’s an incredible thing to say to someone, but it’s only meaningful if it’s said with sincerity. That’s the challenge for us all – not only to tell the people around us that we want (and trust) them to be themselves but also to accept them, love them, and appreciate them when they are.
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This week, challenge yourself to let your actions (and, if you want, your words) tell someone that you love, “You do you.”
You might be surprised just how much it means to them.