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

FearLESS

One of the most profound truths of my life is this:

I want my life to feel like an adventure.

I want the wind in my hair. I want to do something new and bold and bright every day. I want to test my limits and my boundaries. I want to feel every high and every low; I want the complete human experience.

A second equally profound truth of my life is this:

I am afraid of nearly everything: heights, the unknown, falling of any kind, failure, big bugs, bed bugs, infectious diseases…. Really, anything my thoughts can get a hold of I can be afraid of.

I’ve been fearful since birth. I used to hide in my cubby in pre-school. I also once convinced myself I had rabies (no, I was not bitten by an animal of any kind. I just decided I had rabies…). And my first trip to Disney World resulted in a long-term aversion to anything Mickey Mouse.

So basically what I am saying is that my deepest desire is somewhat in conflict with my basic nature. My love of adventure and individuality and freedom is always in conflict with my desire for safety and security and stability.

My career bridges this gap. More specifically, performing bridges this gap.

When I perform, I am free. I am alive. I willingly embrace the unknown (because you never know what’s going to happen during a live show…) and I do it with my entire being.

Performing has forced me to face my fears. And as I’ve done that, I’ve started to learn that my fears aren’t so scary; the stakes in reality are never nearly as high as the stakes in my mind.

It would have been an easier path for me to ignore my adventurous side, to assume that I didn’t have the temperament for big risks and bold dreams. It would have been easier to assume that the stage wasn’t for me because I would be more comfortable somewhere else.

But something deep down always told me I needed more.

I think we all have a voice that tells us to do things that don’t make sense with who we are or who we’ve been. I know how easy it is to sweep it under the rug, and I’ll admit it’s sometimes hard to make sense of its’ outrageous suggestions. But in my experience, this is the voice that I most need to pay the attention to. It shows me who I want to be and guides me as to how I want to grow.

 

Performing isn’t scary any more. It’s a rush. It’s an adventure. It lights me up and makes me feel so very alive. It is the foundation of why I do what I do.

 

And so I say to you: when you are most afraid, keep going. Don’t let your idea of who you are keep you from being who you want to be and living the way you want to live.


This has made all the difference.

 

Time

I’ve spent the past few weeks going through all of my old writing- journals, essays, lyrics- you name it. This morning I magically stumbled upon a piece I wrote about time, what I dream I would do if I had more of it and what actually happened the last time I got some extra free time thanks to a couple of snow days! As it happens, I’m currently in that very position. The blizzard Stella has given me a day of solitude and freedom. And as I read my words, I realize though a lot changed, some things always stay the same.

 

You see, I still complain a lot about not having enough time. To do the things I want to do. Imagine what I could create if I had a little more time…

 

And like the answer to my unspoken prayers, I receive this little gift: my whole life was cancelled for BASICALLY TWO DAYS because of widespread generalized panic over Juno: the delightful, little blizzard that threatened to wreak havoc over the northeast this week.  (This time it’s Stella and we only get one day off… but you get the point!)

 

In any case, I got what I’ve been waiting for… a little bit of time. AMAZING, right? But let me tell you, it is also really uncomfortable. You see I don’t really feel like creating anything. I feel like eating junk food. And watching TV. And pretending I don’t have dreams or problems. Or if these things didn’t work, how about over-exercising or compulsively refreshing my Instagram feed every 2-5 minutes?!

 

These are the things I want to do at this moment. And at the same time there is so much I want to create. What a conundrum. What do I do? Do I need downtime to “recharge?” Do I take this gift of a few moments off and do what I want instead of what I “should”? Or do I recommit once again to my dreams and get to work?

 

And suddenly I started thinking about this book I read a few years ago… the one that taught me everything I now know about work, about creative living, about artistic pursuits and dreams and about how to begin to make them happen. Basically, everything I didn’t know I didn’t know I learned from Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.” The book is all about fear and resistance and how they keep us from pursuing dreams and doing the things we deeply and desperately want to do.

 

So I picked up the book. (That’s the thing about having hard copies of books… you can literally pick them up…) And here’s some of what it says:

 

“The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don't just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed.

 

Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second we can turn the tables on Resistance.

 

This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

 

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

 

The thing is to show up. Every day. Show up and do the work as best you can. Nothing may come of it. Something amazing may come of it. The result is not what’s important. It’s important to just show up. Even if there’s a blizzard. Even if there’s junk food. As best you can.

 

So here I am.

Passion into work

I have spent my entire life chasing dreams. I think there’s a reason we love what we love, and we should spend our lives, our time, on that which brings us the most joy. It’s very clear. Hypothetically. Reality is blurrier.

About a year ago, one of my closest friends confided in me that she was considering going back to school for photography with the intent of possibly changing professions. Taking pictures is among her favorite pastimes. It relaxes her. It reminds her of the intrinsic beauty of the things she most often photographs: landscapes, sunsets, architecture. Her photos are stunning.

“Be careful,” I warned. “When you turn your passion into your career, something shifts, a piece of the passion, of the unbridled joy of doing what you love, gets lost.”

I would know.

Singing is my greatest release. I feel most alive when I sing, most connected to myself and to the world around me. I cannot imagine my life without it, which is exactly why I have made it my life.

But when you put a full life’s worth of pressure on your passion, it changes. I have come to believe that pure passion cannot carry the weight of making sure you have enough money to pay your rent; it cannot soften the blow of the rejections that will inevitably come. When you turn something you love into work, you will not be able to rely on it in the same way. It will no longer be your escape from the stresses of reality; it will carry the weight of your reality.

You will have to open your heart to criticism in a new way and practice when you don’t feel like it. You will have to sacrifice other areas of your life on behalf of your passion. You will have to learn to expand what you do in order to improve and grow. Sometimes you will have to work on some part of your craft that is so different from what you instinctively know and love that you will lose sight of yourself and your artistry in the process.

But if you keep working, you will find yourself again. And eventually you will astonish yourself with the things you have learned and the ways you have developed. There is still a long way to go, sure, but you will have turned into an artist. And the passion will be there, but in a different way. It will be more technical, more masterful.

There are still days that I get lost in song, days where I sing purely for the joy of singing, but more often than not, I sing to get better. I practice to grow. I feel the weight of needing to be in great vocal shape when I have a tour coming up and the burden of trying to mix what I love with what is commercially viable.

I have no regrets. If I were able to go back in time and do it all over, I’d make many of the same choices.

I think my friend would make a brilliant photographer. And if she wants to travel this road, I will support her every step of the way. But it’s a choice, a tough choice that she can’t take lightly. It’s a choice that every single day I do not take lightly.

Ultimately, in my humble opinion, passion is the most glorious thing in the world. But it isn’t enough.

No Love Songs

When I first set out to write songs, I was pretty open. I was willing to experiment with genre and tempo and lyrics and anything really. I very much adopted an “I’ll try anything once” mentality. (This has since become my overall way of life… within reason, of course) Nonetheless, I had only one rule…

NO LOVE SONGS.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, as a young adult listening to music, I felt really excluded and marginalized by love songs. I was smart and cute and funny and expressive kid, but I was also incredibly, incredibly awkward. When I heard love songs, songs about charming, perfect boys falling head over heels for beautiful, effervescent women, I felt like that would never be me. I would always be the girl who got paint on her shirt in art class (then), who spilled wine all over herself at the party (now). As a teenager, I was sure that I would never be the girl that all the boys liked. And this upset me much more than I was willing to let on.

So I vowed not to make romance the primary focus of my life. I vowed to cultivate my independence, my strength, my intelligence, my sense of humor and made the decision to prioritize how I feel about myself above how anyone else (male or female) might feel about me.

I was determined that this would extend to my music. I wanted to write songs about learning to love myself, about getting through my lowest lows, about finding strength in my weaknesses, about the zillion other non romantic journeys I have the privilege of taking every single day.

And I’ve kept that promise I made to Little Shayna. I’ve taught her about filling her life with laughter and love, romantic or otherwise. I’ve showed her how to follow her dreams. I’ve kept my romantic life out of my music and my writing process entirely.

Until now.

Love-Hate-Date

“I hate dating.”

    --- Pretty much everyone ever, right?

 

 

I used to feel this way. Dating can be STRESSful and oftentimes seems like way more trouble than it’s worth.

 

I have done a good bit of personal research on the topic. You see, I’ve spent the better part of the past couple of years going on lots and lots of dates (in New York City no less, debatably the most intense, cutthroat place on earth), and I’ve discovered firsthand a thing or two about the ways I can make it all more fun.

 

Ultimately, I think the difference between loving dating and loathing it boils down to one little piece of advice:

 

You need to stop focusing on how your dates feel about you and instead focus on how you feel about them.

 

Seems simple right? But simple isn’t easy.

 

Here’s how I go about doing it:

 

  1. Before the date, I remind myself how much I love my life, just as it is right now. I consciously remember all the ways my life is full and fulfilling with or without a guy.

  2. When I’m on the date, I put the focus back on the guy I’m out with. I try to ask him questions and really listen to the answers. I try to get a sense of the person I’m sitting across from so I can see if they might be someone I’d want to get to know better.

  3. I try to always be myself. I say what I think and I’m really honest about who I am and what my life is like. This might be the most important part of all.

  4. And finally, I always remind myself that the guy I’m with is also on a date. He might be nervous, so I try to be extra kind. This also serves as a reminder that I’m not in it alone.

 

These days I go on dates with the aim of determining if I might have a connection with the other person, to see if he’s someone I might want to keep in my life for a bit. If the date doesn’t go well or doesn’t seem to lead to anything, I move on. It doesn’t change my life and it doesn’t change me.

 

Every interaction holds the possibility of a spark, of a real, magnetic connection. Because I love that possibility, I now actually really like dating. I’ve realized all I have to do is show up, relax, be myself and see what happens. That’s literally it!

 

There’s really nothing to hate after all ☺