When I became a crossword clue, the instant fame within my family created an unexpected opportunity.
Even if you didn’t create the problem, you can still be part of the solution.
See 4. Down.
Please know that the sentiment above does actually resonate with me in both my professional and personal life when it comes to making the world a better place. In fact, I believe it’s our civic responsibility to do more than simply not be a problem. We need to be anti-problems.
At the same time, making it to crossword fame has inspired an additional reflective moment on my career.
Many of my relatives are crossword puzzle fanatics, so being a clue in the Toronto Star’s “Colossal Canada Crossword” (thanks Kelly AnnBuchanan) earned me big time street cred and fame with my family.
It reminded me that, no matter what you do for a living, the perception your family has of you can be a crucial bellwether for what you can celebrate as remarkable about yourself, even if you don’t agree with them.
How your family perceives you may not feel like a true reflection of how others perceive you in the “real world”. You may think they’re biased by what they remember about you from when you were just a kid, or by their intimate knowledge of your flaws and missteps from when you were young and inexperienced.
But, there’s a truth to that rich history that doesn’t have to be scary or dismissed. It can, instead, inform you of how other people experience you that can be exciting in surprising ways.
My kids know me as Papa, sometimes silly, sometimes strict. Their perception of me may be biased by what they experience with me in my role as a “Dad” and by their intimate knowledge of my flaws and missteps as a parent.
By the time “The Umbrella Academy” was released in 2019, I had appeared in eight seasons of Cash Cab, as the Host, in every minute of every one of the 208 episodes. I had also written and starred in several internationally broadcast stand-up comedy specials.
In Episode 1 of Season 1 of “The Umbrella Academy”, I appeared very briefly in parts of two scenes which, combined, lasted for a little over three minutes. My kids received messages, even just recently, from their friends who were awestruck to see me in a Netflix series. For my kids, this fame is “the bomb”.
It’s tempting for me to shrug off fame for being a crossword clue, or for having a very small acting role in a “hot” show as being less important than the accomplishments of which I’m most proud and worked most hard to achieve. But, when the people who know you most intimately find joy in a moment that seems insignificant to you, they’re giving you valuable information.
They’re identifying something that’s important to them and their experience with the world and marvelling at how you’ve appeared in that world for them in a special way. Your family are the ones who will provide you with this honest feedback that you may never get from strangers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they think less of the other things you’ve accomplished.
When something of only minor significance to you is meaningful to others, it’s an opportunity to take pride in what’s important to them, instead of wishing for them to take pride in what’s important to you. It’s not a problem for which you need to find a solution.