About a year and a half ago I posted a cute video of my niece, then 6 years old, singing a song of mine in the car. We were on our weekly Skype-call when she spontaneously started singing a song (from my then just released record), and I was so moved that I had to film her doing it. It was a beautiful moment of connection, and I later felt compelled to share it. I did let my niece know at the time that I’d posted it, and she was quite excited.

While on my Skype-call with her this week, my niece was checking out my Facebook-page, and came across that very same video for the first time since I’d posted it. It was incredible to watch her expression change from shock to horror to shyness to fascination, as she decided whether she was actually willing to watch it in full. Curiosity eventually won. I told her that it was entirely up to her whether the video remains on my site or not. I naturally don’t want to embarrass her if she’s not ok with it. I find the clip adorable, but then again it isn’t me on the video, singing as a 6-year-old.

The episode got me thinking about how hard it’s been for me too, to watch my own performances or interviews on TV over the years. I’ve always found it quite uncomfortable to see myself perform or hear myself talk on screen. I tend to become ruthlessly critical of myself, and it’s simply not been a particularly fun experience. At what point do we become self-conscious in this way? My niece certainly wasn’t self-conscious at six years old. She would’ve just kept on singing, and would’ve been happy if the whole world was watching. Now, at 8 years old, it’s quite a different story.

This all being said, I’ve noticed that it’s becoming much easier for me to watch myself on screen lately. I think it’s a combination of many things: creating art that feels authentic to me, feeling more and more free to be myself–– to look how I want to look, and to say what I want to say. Naturally it’s much easier to watch oneself be real and present, rather than disconnected or artificial. Being able to watch performance footage of myself is an important learning tool for me as a performer, and I want to be able to use it for my own betterment.

Today I post a video of a recent performance of mine from The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles. Patrick O’Heffernan from Music Friday Live! filmed my whole concert, and kindly sent all the videos to me afterwards. For the last few years I’ve felt like each concert has steadily been better than the one before, and this one was better than those that came before it. I felt quite proud watching this, and I have a deep understanding of how far I’ve come. I think that my 8-year-old self would dig it too.