Paris! New York! Milan! Tokyo! London! You name it, the models go there. Pretty cool, to be our age and travel the world and experience so much. I remember going from hitch-hiking in Southern Africa, sleeping in crappy hostels, to roaming the Seychelles, having my backpack transported in a golf cart, since of course I don’t have to carry that myself, sir. I laid in bed that first night, being overwhelmed, shocked, amazed, happy, humbled and lonely at the same time. I remember thinking, ‘how do I ever explain this?’.
When I started modeling, I still had one semester to finish in university. I remember a conversation I had during lunch with a fellow student. We had Wednesdays off, and I spent it working in Spain. I asked him ‘what did you do yesterday?’ He told me he watched three movies and played some basketball. Then he asked me the same thing. I told him that I spent the day on the beach, learning how to waterski in the south of Spain. This is when I started feeling a problem. For years after that, I was thinking a lot about ‘when am I sharing, when am I bragging?’
The thing is, so many exciting things are happening, that you want to share it with the world! But then, the world might think you’re a show-off douche. Catch 22. I handled this in a few different ways in the beginning years of modeling:
I just got started, I was flying around, making some money, and meeting the craziest people. So what do you do with this? That’s right, you tell it to all your friends and family, and just about anyone with a heartbeat. You are exploding with enthusiasm, and the strangest things are happening in your life! Soon enough, I started realizing that not everyone’s reaction was as excited as I hoped it was. After some initial disappointment, I remember thinking that that kind of made sense as well. I mean, here I am telling all these big stories, what are you supposed to say? And it wasn’t happening to them, so how could they fully join me in my excitement? I decided to try hard to control my innocent excitement and start inaggerating (oh yes, I mean the opposite of exaggerating. Is it a word? Not sure, but I like it).
The Downplay Share
I think I spent a lot of time in the beginning trying to prove to everyone that I was still a nice guy, that I stayed normal (a Dutch obsession), that modeling didn’t change me. I now look back and think I wasted time on that. I would downplay everything I experienced, just to not have too many, too big stories to share that could give people the wrong impression. I felt like this might be the way to go, but more and more I realized that also this way of sharing was not working. This was for two reasons: firstly I felt like I wasn’t able to truly say all the things I was feeling and experiencing. Every word I said, I was weighing it, checking if it didn’t come across as too pompous, too arrogant, etc. But because of this, I got blocked from sometimes just letting it out, whether ‘it’ was superpositive (I am in Russia, can you believe it!) or supernegative (the Milan castings, hearing ‘no’ 1000 times a day is painful). And another problem turned out to be that my attempt at modesty backfired, and some people actually thought I was very arrogant for never seeming that impressed, or that excited.
In the beginning this hurt me a lot, and it made me feel helpless, since it seemed like quite a task to prove my niceness to seven billion people. So I stopped trying. I tried to accept that some people would judge, no matter what I was trying. Another thing I wanted to accept was a beautiful thing. That, to the people that know me, I had nothing to prove. On neither side of the spectrum. They know me and understand me.
The Selective Share
So I think I finally figured it out a few years ago. There are a handful of people that know everything about my job. All the good sides and all the bad sides. And everyone else? I keep it shallow. Most people stop asking after a few standard questions anyway (which famous brand have you worked for/what famous people have you met?). And I have also realized: isn’t this kind of normal? Think about it, how much do you truly know about the jobs of friends? Sure, I can summarize what they do for a living, but really, exactly know what a day in their working life is? What’s their desk like, who do they speak to for lunch break, what kind of stress are they under? In my experience, we know a lot about each others’ jobs in the basics, but there are only a few people that really know the daily ins and outs of whatever your job is. So why would mine be any different?
There! My mind process. One possible conclusion after reading this is that ‘that Marius guy needs to stop thinking about what others think’. And you would be right. But if I am honest, I know I think a lot about these things. And I find them very interesting (I probably shouldn’t study Psychology if I didn’t). I wanted to share this funny dilemma with you, and I would be curious about how others (models or not) handle this, or what they think about it.
So no summarizing attempt-at-funny, self-depreciating punchline this time. Just a question: what do you think? As a model, did you feel this dilemma at all? Is it just me? As a non-model, can you see the point, or do you think I have created problems by overthinking stuff? Let me know! [email protected], or you are most welcome to share your thoughts in the comments.