RHR and I have been fundraising for our upcoming trip to Germany for a year and let me tell you, I hate it and it is terrifying. Way, way more scary to me than getting up in front of a NY audience of 2000 people in a Broadway house without a rehearsal opposite a Tony winner to sing my first public high F. Way, way, way scarier than that.
We did well in our Kickstarter campaign last June. We have very generous friends and family, and we successfully raised $8,000 in a 30-day campaign. I’m incredibly grateful and very humbled. Let me tell you: every single day, every single terrifying day, I thought I would throw up. I would get shaky hands and prickly heat on my neck when I would look at the campaign page to see how we were doing. Every time I posted an update on the campaign or linked it to Facebook or Twitter, I wanted to crawl under my covers and not come out.
Why on earth??!! Am I embarrassed by my singing or my husband’s? Not in the slightest. Do I think that our project is worthless? Of course not! Do I think that my friends and family are selfish or don’t care about us or what we are doing? No!
Because admitting that we can’t get there by ourselves is… drum roll… shameful. It’s embarrassing. Good, responsible people give; they don’t ask. (Do you guys run to the kitchen to whip up a casserole when you hear someone just suffered a loss or a health problem or had a baby, but when it’s you and someone says, “Oh, let me know if I can do anything at all!” you smile and sweetly say, “Oh, thank you!” with no intention of letting your real needs be known?) To be on the receiving end of generosity feels… weak, powerless. And is what we want to do worthy of donations? I mean, we are asking for help in making art, for heaven’s sake! We aren’t saving the starving children of the world or vaccinating Africa or building cottage industries in Nepalese villages!
And then I start to think about what that all really means. By clinging to these views of mine, am I saying that people who ask for help are weak? Do I secretly scorn them when I offer a helping hand? Do I sit in secret judgment of them while I go it on my own? So why do I think they are doing that to me?
We are still $16,000 away from our fundraising goal. We are approaching corporations now to ask for support. You’d think that this would be easier than going to family and friends, but nope! It’s not! We got one very nice turn-down, and it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it took me 3 weeks to get up the courage to even ask. And I have procrastinated for 2 weeks on the other asks on my list.
I really like, though, the idea that Amanda Palmer (superstar fundraiser) has put forward: that asking people to join you is not asking for a handout as though you have nothing to offer. Giving and receiving is never one way. It is about inviting them along the journey with you, inviting them to be a part of something bigger than any of us can do alone. It’s about recognizing our interdependence, that we all rely on each other every minute of the day. We are none of us alone. It’s about connection.
It’s scary, no doubt. But I’m going to be brave. I’m going to ask. Hopefully there are people that want to come with us.
Thank God it’s Friday night and I don’t have to be brave until Monday when offices are open!!
And to assuage my fear that singing isn’t really important enough to have major significance for the world, enough to ask for help with, from Dr. Brene Brown:
“Laughter, song, and dance create an emotional and spiritual connection; they remind us of the one thing that truly matters when we are searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration, or healing: We are not alone.”
**For anyone who is curious, the link above details our project, in which we invite American schoolchildren along on our 90 day audition tour of Germany via real-time video chats and blog reporting, as well as in-person visits to our partner school in Harlem. Donations are tax-deductible.
Holy crap, that was scary!