Success bewilders me. It’s not that I don’t want it. Crave it. Need it. It’s that despite my predilection for creative independence, my reality has twisted so grotesquely that everything appears as if it’s going all… Right.
I’m used to life as a tilt-a-whirl. The story of a high school dropout stumbling through university and an abusive relationship. The spoonful of bullshit in a teacup of troubles. Success is something that happens to other people.
Yet a year and change after launching The Lapse Storytelling Podcast, my voice has been heard hundreds of thousands of times. I was the recipient of one of the most fiercely competitive accolades in the business. Still I am predisposed to believe that for every right, I must be wronged. My listeners will lose interest, my savings will run dry, and I will husk over like chitin, a cynic born anew.
Thus far, everything’s alright.
Curiously – perhaps neurotically – I’m discovering that I actually fear recognition. I don’t mean that in the grand sense. I mean literally being recognized by a stranger. After I was a guest on RISK! I had swaths of people add me to Facebook, folks who I’d not exchanged so much as a tweet with. Last month I was actually stopped on my way home.
Nothing puts my pulse on turbo quite like “excuse me, are you Kyle Gest?”
Maybe it’s that, despite the personal nature of my work, my microphone is a veil. A kind of public anonymity, like a voice without a face. To recognize me beyond my work, as not a personality but a person, requires a vested interest in looking me up. It means success on the sliding scale of privacy, a four-letter word that starts with F. It means fame. Redefining my expectations for myself. Maybe – just maybe – it means an honest-to-God career.
Given the choice? Ah. I suppose that’s alright.