If Your Life Was Being Recorded, What Would You Do Differently?

There’s something about having a super-hot cameraman two feet from your face recording you eat breakfast that makes you incredibly self-conscious.

You start to wonder things like, Am I eating this cereal faster than normal? How fast is normal to eat cereal? Do other people eat cereal like this? Am I holding this spoon properly? How do spoons work, again? Why have my appendages become so foreign and robotic?

This is precisely the odd situation I found myself in a couple weeks ago, when I participated in a paid research study that involved having a film crew follow me around for the day recording my normal activities. Whatever big-name company had hired them wanted to get a better glimpse into the life of a typical customer, which meant having two cameramen and a producer record me doing things like composing a blog post (let’s not even get into how impossible that is with someone literally staring over your shoulder), watching TV with my husband and feeding our crazy foster dog Prozac and peanut butter on a spoon. (P.S. “Prozac and Peanut Butter” would make an amazing memoir / album title.)

It was surreal being the subject of a mini documentary. It made me feel like every stupid, mundane thing I was doing was suddenly ridiculously significant, as well as ridiculously insignificant, because who really cares about how I eat cereal or what my husband and I look like while we’re watching an episode of @midnight?

But therein lies the rub. Because everything we do throughout the day is both ridiculously significant and ridiculously insignificant. And if you don’t have a film crew following you around to make you painfully aware of that, it can be easy to stumble through your days haphazardly and half-assedly, wasting your opportunity to do some pretty amazing stuff with the time you’ve been given on this planet.


Little Moments Matter

I’ve written before about how your life is not a dress rehearsal. How every moment you’re alive is a choice to be the best version of yourself, to make the most of your actions, to rock the motherloving crap out of your existence.

But it’s the kind of thing that can stand being written about again (and again), because it’s so glaringly obvious and important we tend to forget about it entirely in the course of our day-to-day living. Lord knows I’ve gone back to my own posts on more than one occasion to remind myself of things I’m fully aware of intellectually but fail miserably at realizing on a regular basis, like the fact that my inner critic is a lying bitch, my happiness depends on me and I’ve already got a crazy-lot to be grateful for.

But when you’ve got a film crew documenting your every move for some big-name corporation’s close analysis, you become minutely aware of the kind of life you’re living. You find yourself moving more deliberately, choosing your words more carefully, wondering why you weren’t more diligent about those daily workouts because now Super-Hot Cameraman is recording you doing the pushups you told the crew you do every day and yet you’re only able to muster up 7 of them before you ask how many are really needed for the workout montage.

You find yourself wondering if the regular daily life that’s being captured is really the sort of thing that you of 10 years ago — or you of 10 years from now — would feel satisfied witnessing.

And you find yourself realizing you need to make some adjustments. Because when you’re just coasting through the usual motions of getting through the day, it’s easy to forget about the overall importance of the life you’re building, the person you’re becoming and the legacy you’re leaving in the process. But when you put your day under the microscope, it comes out in sharp relief, and you find yourself resolving to do so many things so very differently. (Like embarking on this crazy sumbitch, which I’m currently in the midst of, heaven and my tiny Grover arms help me.)


What Do YOU Want the Camera to Capture?

Take a moment from your regularly scheduled programming to imagine that camera crew (super-hot cameraman included if that helps motivate you) following you around for the day, and ask yourself if you’d like what they’re getting on film.

When you wake up in the morning, do you want the record to show you did so reluctantly, dragging your grumpy ass through your coffee and shower with dread for the shitty job you’re returning to for the millionth day in a row? Or do you want it to show you bounding up in excitement for a day filled with awesome work that challenges and inspires you?

Do you want the playback to reveal you turn into a pissy monster when you’re behind the wheel in a traffic jam, or would you rather it show you unapologetically singing along to your favorite ‘90s hip hop playlist while the rest of the commuters around you quietly stew over their iPhones?

If this day were being recorded for posterity, what would you want your kids, your grandkids and future generations to see about who you are and how you lived your life? (Tweet!)

I’d want them to see that I left it all on the court each day, living a life that’s a fiercely felt, jumbled-up mix of hard work, hard play, hard laughter and hard joy, whether it’s another Monday or a dreary Wednesday or a Saturday that feels wasted ‘cause it’s raining and my head hurts.

I want each day to count, if for nothing else than for the fact that I was totally alive while I was living it.

What say you? The camera is on, it’s trained right on you, and we’re rolling. What do you it to capture?

Image:  Khairil Zhafri / Flickr

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  • I would have found this experience completely unnerving! It probably worked well that you’re an at-home freelancer since my corporate employer would frown on me being followed around by a camera all day (and I’d have to answer a lot more questions from coworkers).

    But really, what a great question – what would YOU do if you were followed around by a camera all day? Some of us may pretend that a song we’re listening to through earbuds is our own personal soundtrack, but I would guess very few people have been followed around by cameras for an entire day (including professional actors). I would certainly behave differently if I were being watched…thanks for giving me something to think about!

    • It was definitely unnerving, but it really made me stop and think about the kind of life I live from day to day. (It’s been especially helping in keeping me on track with my workout goals.) 😀

  • r-evove

    Great thought and a maybe subtle call to action…
    Life is really what we make of it and I do hope I would be able to show others my good and happy self. The fun, enjoy my life and family guy. There would likely be a bit of my pissy self and anger would pop in a few times, but the camera would help push the good stuff.
    That is needed. Push the fun, good and positive!
    Thanks for sharing Kelly!

    • There will always be outtakes — parts of your day that aren’t perfect or aren’t really camera-ready. The important thing, like you say, is to “push the good stuff.”