Single-Shaming

I am going to get super real with you right now.

I have spent a lot of the past month single-shaming myself.

** This is a term I just created (someone else no doubt has also come up with it. Definition: the act of beating oneself up for being single.)

It seems that in the past few months so many people I know have taken big steps in their personal lives. My sister moved in with her boyfriend (YAY!). One of my closest friends is expecting her first child (also YAY!). Another of my close friends just had her first child (she is such a cutie). Another bought a house with her husband (real adult stuff here), and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It started to feel like I should be crossing the threshold into some sort of new personal life territory too. It started to feel like maybe I was missing the moment, like if something important and progressive didn’t happen soon, I would be left behind.

So I’ve been swimming in these thoughts and feelings for the past couple weeks, and though I could not be more excited for my people and all of the incredible things happening for them, things have felt a little less than amazing in casa de Shayna.

But this morning I had an epiphany.

It is July 4, my country’s Independence Day. And that got me thinking. As a country, we fought for our freedom, for autonomy, for the ability to make decisions about the course we wanted to take as a nation. For better or worse, we fought for our independence. And when we got it, we set aside a day to celebrate, to remember that freedom is not guaranteed (though it should be), and we take a moment to reflect on the price we were willing to pay as a nation to stand on our own.

Learning to be independent on a personal level has not been easy for me. I am an artist. The path I take to create and sustain myself is not straight. I have fought for autonomy as hard as I’ve fought for anything. I’ve learned self-respect and self-love. Though I have an amazing support network, I’ve learned to stand on my own two feet and take whatever life throws at me and make the best of it. And it’s been one of the great challenges of my life so far.

So why don’t I celebrate it?

One day, I will meet someone I want to be with for the rest of my life. And I will probably get married. And I will start a new journey of learning how to be in a partnership. That is something I deeply desire.

But for now, I have the opportunity to stand in my independence, to relish that which I earned. I can look at the work that I’ve done to be happy in my life on my own and be grateful. I can celebrate myself as a person with a full life, professionally and personally, that is full of both love and autonomy.

Despite that one day I will perhaps be part of a unit, today and every day I can celebrate my independence. Change will come. It always does. But for now, maybe it’s ok to stop and relish in the battles I’ve already won, the changes I’ve already made. Maybe it’s ok today to be exactly where I am.

Techno Dating

Technology has changed everything about the way we live our lives. It has completely altered the way we receive and give information, the way we communicate, the way we navigate, the way we consume media… you name it, technology controls it. (duh.)
 
Technology has changed the way we date. 
 
We don’t have to go out into the world to meet people anymore. All we need to get a date is a smart phone and a few pictures of ourselves.  It’s really pretty incredible how easy it is to connect with so many people. 
 
I am an avid online dater (by which I mean “app dater”). And here’s why in a nutshell: because I regularly go out on dates, I feel confident that I am working towards what I want (in this case to one day meet someone and fall in love). And because I feel confident that I am working towards what I want, my free time, the time I spend with my friends and my family hanging out and having fun, is truly my own. When I am hanging out with my friends, I am really WITH them. I am not thinking about “meeting someone.” I can enjoy the company of the people I love. I get to have the best of both worlds. 
 
Certain dating apps get a bad rep. The swipe culture gets a bad rep. And there’s absolutely truth to that. But what I am saying is that on the other side of the coin, in my personal experience, having dating apps to actively help me get dates has freed me up to really enjoy the time I spend out in the world. Somehow, this technology, the same one that’s so often blamed for locking us to our phones and holding us back from being present, has done the opposite for me. It has made me more present. It has given me a kind of freedom to really BE in the moments I most want to be in, the moments where I am surrounded by the people I love. 
 
And that’s something I wouldn’t want to give up. Not ever. 

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld was apparently very picky about the women he dated. 

I learned this when my producers, Peter and Mike, started calling me Jerry Seinfeld. 

You see, we’d decided to make an EP about my dating life. I was going through a phase where I was going on a lot of dates, and it dawned on me that I had an artistic point of view on dating, on love seeking. The EP consists of 5 songs that each was written directly based on a different dialogue or series of dialogues about an actual dating and love related experience of mine. While writing these songs, I talked about everything- my experiences, my fears, the good moments, the terrible ones. This process was not for the faint of heart. 

In any case, at this particular moment, I had gone on a lot of first dates, and I just wasn’t feeling any of them. Majority of the people I went out with during this phase (and truly I would say this about most anyone I’ve ever been out with ever) were really good people, nice and kind and polite people, but for one reason or another, I just wasn’t feeling it. 

And so, I was dubbed “Jerry Seinfeld.” 

After about the third or fourth or fifth time one of them said it, I needed to set the record straight. 

“I’M NOT JERRY SEINFELD!” I exclaimed! 

And then… we all stopped… because there was the song. 

“Jerry Seinfeld” is a song about why I am not too picky, about why I am not too particular, and about why I will never settle for anything less than what feels right to me. 

One of the most profound lessons I have learned as a woman who goes on dates is to trust my instincts. I know when I should pursue something, and I know when I should walk away. More than that, I have learned that it is possible to put myself out there and meet new people and be open to them while keeping my standards, my sense of what I want and how I want to feel. 

I have learned that I am not Jerry Seinfeld

I am Shayna Leigh.  

The Path

Home is safe.

Everyone knows your name.

Predictable. Secure.

But you can only grow so much in your cocoon.

 

 

I can’t resist the call of the unknown,

 

The same unknown that keeps me up at night with its’ relentless questions.

I am at its’ mercy.

 

At best it is exhilarating

 

To know that I am the master of my own path

To feel the strength of paving my own way

And to live in the world as a woman in charge.

At best I know I am doing something worthy

Simply because I am giving my all.

 

At worst it is absolutely exhausting

 

Bearing the weight of my dreams every day

Fight and clawing and climbing with integrity

Facing the possibility of an all too public failure.

Knowing I will give my all and it may not be enough.

 

I’d like to wrap this up in a little bow,

 

As I do with all things

To find the moral and the meaning.

But this is too gray

Life is all too gray.

But it is good to be alive

And that most certainly is enough.

Discoveries From Tour... So Far

Things I’ve Discovered on Tour… So Far…

*Driving is like riding a bike. Apparently even if you haven’t driven in YEARS, you can still drive. (I have first-hand experience here)

*People in the South are as friendly as they say.

*North Carolina is as beautiful as I remember. (It is the only place besides New York and Florida I have lived for more than a month.)

*Even when their major highway collapses just hours before you go onstage, the people of Atlanta will come out to your show. (Again, first-hand experience)

*House concerts are AMAZING. If you don’t know, this is where people have you come play concerts in their houses or backyards for friends and neighbors and music fans. The experience at Backyard Stage in Greensboro was incredible. Home cooked meal + performing outside under the stars for a bunch of super cool people hanging out on lawn chairs = a top notch evening in my book.

*Right next to the Evening Muse in Charlotte (another killer venue) is a dog bar. Yes, you heard right. It is a bar where people bring their dogs and let them loose to play. Also, it is a bar where dog-less dog people go to play with other people’s dogs. (I may or may not be one of those people) And there’s booze. Why is this the first I’m learning of this magical invention?

*Your leg can cramp up after driving 4 hours straight. Who knew I’d ever get to experience this bizarre sensation?

*If I had to guess, heaven feels like a comfortable bed.

*Whatever you think you were going to have time to take care of while you were on the road will probably have to wait until you get home because you will be too busy driving and eating and singing and working out (at least if you’re me)

*Whenever a guitar player is near his guitar, he will play it. It’s one of the laws of nature.

*You will remember you have friends just about everywhere. And you will make new ones. And you will realize that there are all these truly incredible people out there working to keep new music alive in this country. And you will be grateful.

*You will be happier than you thought possible when you find a coffee shop that can make an almond milk chai tea latte the way you like yours at home. And then you will feel mildly pathetic for loving a drink so much. But that feeling will subside as soon as you take your first sip.

*It might rain on your day off… after you’ve gone a bit out of your way to stop in a cool city you’ve heard a lot about. The silver lining is that because of this you will have time to take a long juicy nap and write about the things you’ve discovered on tour.

Eventually the rain will stop and the sun will come out, as it always does. This will be your cue to put on your shoes and go out into the world once again. Because the most profound thing you’ve discovered (or rediscovered) on tour is that you never know what’s next, what’s waiting around the corner for you, but the only way to find out is to literally get out there and see for yourself.

shayna leigh tour