Hello to you all! This is a piece that has been written a couple of different ways and has been very difficult to finish. I tried to explain my head space about this in a previous post and it was really difficult to pick up and continue with how I had originally started. I hope it doesn’t come off too rambling! I want to give a big thank you to everyone who voted on the survey I created about a week ago, voting on what my next post should be. I appreciate you taking the time to participate!
You. Yeah you. Look over here, okay? I want you to see who I am. I want you to see what I can do and I want you to care about what you’re looking at. Okay? Got it? Now go away! You’re making me so fucking nervous. It’s hard for me to concentrate on what I’m doing when you’re looking at me so closely. Why is that? Why do I care about what you think so much?
These feelings aren’t new to me, you know. I have been this way for as long as I can remember. I want your approval. I need your approval. Who are you, anyway? When I say you and your, who am I really talking about? Well, I guess it’s my parents, my teachers, my friends, my enemies, my dentist, my boss, my co-workers, my neighbors, and on and on and on…
I’ve never been the dreamboat. I’ve never been the head of the class. I’ve never been the leader of the pack. I’m just me. But, I want to be more. I want to be Jennifer Lawrence for once. I want people to look at me and think that I’m just about the cutest damn thing that they have EVER seen. I want to be the showstopper and the fan favorite—the lucky one to be picked out of crowd of people. I just do.
But it’s really funny because as much as I crave to be noticed, I just can’t handle it very well when I AM noticed. See, I want some attention, but I want it my way. You know, only nice things said, only beautiful pictures posted, only great stories mentioned…but I think we all know that isn’t how it works. I have family members to this day who ask me, “Why do you care what other people think? Why do you need to have everyone’s approval?” I don’t know.
Are attention and approval the same thing? As I am writing this I am realizing that for me the answer is yes. I don’t like making mistakes and I don’t like looking stupid. When I do something that I think is good that warrants someone’s approval (and I want attention) I expect to get it—and almost instantaneously. Am I taking a moment for myself? Am I enjoying the personal satisfaction of a job well done? No. Not really. I’m worrying about everyone else. And it really kills me when I don’t get the attention I crave. Don’t they like me? Don’t they care? It’s nauseating. And yet, it’s very real. On the other hand, if I do get the attention and I have the spotlight on me, I tend to blow it off and hide. Now you’re looking at me and noticing me and I just don’t know how to handle that.
I remember once that I wrote a paper in college that I didn’t think was especially memorable or particularly relevant but my professor loved it and asked if she could use that paper as an example to share with my classmates of how to handle the next assignment. Of course she could use my paper. I did something better than everyone else. As far as I was concerned she could throw me a fucking party. I was glowing on the inside and I was sopping up the praise like a kitten stretched out in a warm window sill. She sat at her desk talking about what everyone else should do for the next essay when she looked at me and asked ME to explain to the class what I was thinking and how I came up with such a great paper. Uhhhhhh, excuse me? You want me to whaaa…?
Just like that I had 20 pairs of eyes staring me down and trying to figure out what was so special about what I had written and what I had to say. Gulp. Can you say worst nightmare? My mouth got dry and I had a hard time talking. It took me a good 30 seconds to even get my brain to function in such a way that I could actually find something intelligent to come out of my mouth. Or so I thought. One minute in, I actually uttered the words “yous guys” during my explanation. (Did I mention this was an English Lit class?) I could have heard a fucking pin drop. Then I heard the snickers. Yeah, I was really selling the whole, “Look at me, I know what the hell I’m doing” vibe that the professor was going for. It was enough to scare me off of talking in public for a good long while.
And that was just one example from a long, long time ago. I’ve since had many mortifying moments of attention and I have gotten a lot better at reacting to it since then. I still get very angry when I do something wrong and look stupid, but I hide it better–in public, anyway. The hubby should get hazard pay for living with me. He has to deal with all the behind the scenes stuff. I am learning to say thank you and accept any praise and approval I might receive. I am trying to enjoy my successes for myself and know that as long as I am happy with what I have achieved, that’s all that matters.
It’s hard, though. Now I’m writing these things down to share with many people I don’t know. I put these words down to help myself learn and grow, but I am also putting myself on the line for praise, criticism, indifference…and at least I can hide behind the computer screen. When someone says something nice about what I have written I can re-read it as much as I want and no one will ever know. If something terrible or condescending is said about what I wrote, I can feel as bad as I want and internalize it as much as I want and no one will ever know. (Ha.) Then I can block it, delete it, or take it for what it is—the attention I was looking for. It wasn’t the good kind, but it was attention just the same.
So what I have I learned from writing this all down and sharing it with all of you fine people? Nothing. Not a damn thing. I expect that I will continue wondering what everyone thinks of me and hoping that I will be someone that people think of often. I will do everything short of jumping up and down and waving my arms (except for at work where I will always jump up and down and I can count on my little library friends to load me up with so much attention I want to run away to a deserted island) to get your attention and that’s just the way it is. Just, please, stop looking at me.
© DRB 2015