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November 23, 2004

Center of Attention

“You always want to be the center of attention!”

SpotlightFrom my childhood to my adolescence, on into my relationships and work life, I’ve heard this little phrase over and over again. I blurt out inappropriate things. I talk loudly when I’m excited about something. I exhibit behavior for which there can be no otherwise apparent explanation.

“You just do it to get attention!”

I’ve basically believed this myself. When I have worked on modifying my own behavior, I’ve always made an effort to be strong on the humility part, taking great pains to be humble when offered a compliment, or hiding in embarrassment if I think that everyone is looking at me.

This evening I spoke with a young woman whom I met on the ADD Forums who was discussing her own hard-coded beliefs that everyone had always told her she was a screw-up, and she believes it to this day. I was relating my own difficulty with expressing feelings—because of my childhood experiences with polarized rage and exuberance, I’ve taught myself to put all my feelings behind a little wall. My range of feeling was limited to “fine” and “okay.”

I recently thought about the “center of attention” phrase and wrote it down as an example. I am just realizing that I have a deep aversion to being the focus of anyone, because of my wealth of experience. I don’t like to take credit. I become tense when presented with an award, or win a raffle. While I look forward to recognition, the immediacy of all-eyes-on-me makes me rush, nod my head and go back and hide, begging the presenter to simply move on.

The Internet makes recognition without focus that much easier for me. You all come to my blog in your own sweet time—not all at once. But what If something I said was so incendiary or thought provoking that I was linked to by a major website like Salon.com? Suddenly my 65 visitors a day might soar to 1,000. I’d be getting tons of emails. Would the anonymity of the Internet shield me from my natural inclination to run and hide?

While I desire recognition, I have never seemed to be able to work through my inherent fear of attention. And yet, if I plan to be the award-winning novelist I one day hope to be, I’m going to have to find a way to mitigate that. Perhaps the realization that contrary to what others have told me, and my own, deep-rooted belief, I’m not someone who demands to be at the center of attention.

Because it would be nice to be able to be the center of attention, once in a while, and be able to handle it with joy and not embarrassment.

Posted by Bastique at November 23, 2004 10:30 AM


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