Sunday, August 14, 2005

Admiration? I Don't Know

Sometimes I get in my own way.

Most people would say I’m an extrovert. I like to talk about ideas. I like to share my work. When it comes to work or ideas, I’m a grandmother talking about her grandkids. I’m terrific at presentations but then, I’m holding the microphone. It’s easy to control the conversation when you’re the guy with the microphone.

I like people looking at my work, but I don’t like them looking at me. There is a difference, and I literally feel it. I am too aware. My brain works overtime on what they might be thinking--not that it shares that information with me. When I sense someone trying to see the real me, brain alarms go off, and chemicals start adjusting. Fight or flight? Ignore it or act cool under fire? If I care about who’s looking, the response is almost instantaneous. Poof! Some of the best of me--the softer, sweeter side of m--disappears with that puff of smoke.

It doesn’t happen often. You’d have to know me well to catch it. But that doesn’t matter because I know it happens. I’m left feeling self-conscious and unable to act naturally. I get knocked totally off balance. I compensate. I rattle and move the focus to the clever things I say and do. I go immediately into entertainer mod--a noisier, faster-talking version of me--while still trying to figure out how to pull myself together. I think of it as Social Anxiety Self-Conscious Entertainment Disorder because I begin to make everything into a show.

“Excuse me, Ladies and Gentlemen, if you might allow me a few moments alone. I promise to use them to find the rest of me. I will bring back a less erratic, sane person for your conversational pleasure. I’m sure you would prefer to spend time with someone who could carry on a conversation that actually makes sense.” Though my humor always goes over well, I feel like a fool, and some people choose to agree. Still getting out the entertainer is one way to admit my self-conscious situation and turn it around.

I tell myself that I should just quit looking at people who are looking at me. Lead shoes seem a more reliable solution. They would ground me and protect me from shooting myself in the foot in this way. My answers are too extreme for what the world expects to see.

I want to get out of my way, so that the world can see the soft side of me.

Luke pointed out ever so gently that I, of all people, should know that not everyone is looking to judge me. He suggested that some might be looking in admiration. I could answer in all honesty that it hadn’t occurred to me.

I’ve been thinking on what Luke said for a couple of months now. Admiration? I don’t know. Still I’ve stopped flinching when people look at me, and Monday night a guy yelled, “You’re hot!” out his car window at me.

Maybe I’ll put a hold on the lead shoes.
—me strauss Letting me be


Cheryl said...

OMG, snap.
I prefer a well lit stage looking over masses in the dark to simply a microphone - unless someone else wrote the speech.
You deserve to have all that you have, because you are the one that got off your butt and acquired it, went for it.
Worst case scenario - someone looks at you critically to feed their idea that they could do as well or better. Firstly they are looking up to you, they dont do this inspection to people they already feel superior to - it would be a pointless exercise. Secondly they may very well have the potential to be a superstar - but thats like having a porsche with no engine - the difference is your car actually goes, and actually got there.
Does that make any sense at all?
(I am just going to crawl back into my box now,....)

ME Strauss said...

Thank you for a well-thought, well-written response filled with new ideas and some real energy. No need to crawl in the box. Come on out and talk some more!!