Teenagers crave attention. With the benefit of a few years of distance, I can see that clearly. Everything that happens to two them is either the best, but usually the worst thing ever. Every notable quality about them is better than any of your notable qualities. Every incident, word, interaction, look, and choice is magnified to the extreme, all for the sake of LOOK AT ME!
Now, I’m not just picking on the teenagers I know now. I was just as guilty of all of those things when I was their age and so were my friends. I have more than one memory of me acting in such a way that just makes me cringe now. If my parents had been paying better attention, I wouldn’t have blamed them for locking me in a closet for being annoying.
However, I was really BAD at getting attention. It usually backfired or was in some way ineffective. Mostly, I was out attention-got by someone else that was better at getting attention. In competitions like that, I’m woefully unskilled to compete.
Some people grow out of this ultimate need for attention. Some don’t. Some just evolve their attention getting methods.
I went in the opposite direction.
Once I realized that I wasn’t good at getting attention by any means, I gave up on trying to get it. And when those around me continued to get attention and tried to get attention, it really turned me off to trying to get it.
You know those people that have to one-up you? The ones whose lives are always worse/better than yours depending on the situtation? Yeah. I’ve been acquainted with too many attention-getters like that. It’s turned me off to sharing bits and pieces of my life because I’m tired of being used as a stepping stone to conversation stardom. I’m tired of being reminded about how their lives are so much MORE than mine.
So, I don’t share. Sometimes, I’d like to, but I think better of it and keep it myself. In the end, I have secrets.
I don’t tell people about my writing projects. There are people I haven’t told about my jewelry making. No one at the former day job new the actual extent of my new gig. I’ve gotten very comfortable with operating in the shadows and being overlooked.
But, it’s hurting me as well. You can’t live your whole life unseen (unless you’re some sort of James Bond spy, and I know I’m not cool enough for that life). I’ve gone so far the other way when it comes to seeking attention that to get attention is disconcerting. I get almost paranoid about it. Why are they looking at me? What do they want? Why does what I do matter to them?
It also doesn’t help because I’m at a point in my life when I need attention. I need the attention to create and grow a fanbase. I need the attention to sell books, sell jewelry, sell myself.
Going so long avoiding attention, I’m struggling trying to figure out ways to acquire that kind of attention.
It’s like wearing make-up. If you go for an extended period of time not wearing make-up and then you put it on, you think you look like a painted doll, even if you don’t. If you go for a period of time not trying to get attention, then you start trying, you think you’re being an annoying in a “hey, look at me!” kind of way.
As nice as it is in the darkened wings of the stage, I need to work my way back towards the limelight, even if I can only stand its glare for short periods of time.