There’s something that’s been frustrating me for a while. Granted, a long while. And, while not intended to be negative, this post will address some issues that may not be 100% positive in all circumstances. I’m not trying to call anyone out or direct my words at anyone in particular, but consider yourself warned.
If your mind isn’t open, you may want to skip this one.
What am I talking about that could possibly open up Pandora’s box? Here you go. Are you ready? Deep breath in, out, repeat.
The topic is attention-seeking behavior. Maybe I’m just very sensitive to it because I taught for so long – and kids are the masters of getting any kind of attention, any way, any how. Or maybe it’s just that I tend to be quiet. I’d rather observe than participate in unfamiliar situations. But here are just a few examples of attention-seeking that I’ve seen over the years:
· Over-the-top flirting (by women) with waiters in restaurants. Even more jaw-dropping when the women’s spouses/significant others are around.
· Shameless self-promotion. If I ask about your grad school, new job, promotion – please tell me all about it. But dropping info about your latest publication, academic honor or project that you designed into the middle of a conversation about kids and/or the Cowboys game is a wee bit uncomfortable.
· Loud and conspicuous stretching in the workplace. Really. I’ve seen it. It’s distracting to both men and women when someone (in this case, a female in a male-dominated office) stands up, raises arms overhead (or bends down to touch the floor) while making loud ‘stretching noises’ and sticking various body parts out. Please take it somewhere else.
· Making the effort to list each and every single accomplishment in each and every day. Again, I just feel weird sharing that I went to the grocery store, made a spice rub, prepared a roast, cooked a roast, washed the kids’ underwear, vacuumed out my car and balanced the checkbook (after picking up a dust bunny on the kitchen floor) with everyone I meet. If I’m asked, that’s one thing. But personally I’d rather not share every detail – and I’m sure anyone I know really wouldn’t want to hear all of them. Sure, they’d listen politely. But that’s it.
· Documenting everything on Facebook. Like 200 pictures of the view from your suite in Anguilla. I’m with Jodie Foster on this one. Privacy is becoming underrated and scarce – and I plan to maintain some of mine.
· Judging by default. Ok, I know what you’re thinking. By saying that judging by default is self-seeking, she is judging herself and judging those who judge is the same as being judgmental. Confused yet? I am. What I mean here is that there is a difference between stating your opinion and being SO opinionated about it that others might take it as a judgment. Example: If I say that MY kids are never allowed to eat red jello because of the red dye controversy of 1980 and that MY kids have never been sick a day in their lives, score higher on standardized tests and never argue – doesn’t that pretty much amount to saying that any parent who does allow red jello is crappy? Not sure – it’s probably just my Mom Guilt on that one – but it’s worth thinking about.
· Humble Bragging. Jenn said it best on this one.And I know what she means because Magnus and Starla just wear me out with their never-ending questions and research projects. It’s so difficult to manage our weekend family schedule between commuting to two different college campuses so that they can defend their elementary school dissertations… That’s a joke, people!! Or I could quote the Dowager Countess on this one: “What’s a week end?” Seriously. I’ve been involved in conversations like this one: ‘Since we both work from home, we really don’t have a schedule. Weekends don’t mean anything since we can do anything whenever we need to.’
· And finally, over-outspokenness. Not sure there is such a thing, but here’s what I mean. Why is it that, on the rare occasion that I speak strongly about something, I’m labeled a witch-with-a-b, when individuals I know (who have strong opinions about everything, all the time) are applauded for ‘saying what we all think?’ I’m confused.
Now, before you label me as overly sensitive (which I can be at times), let me explain why this bothers me. Like I said, I’m generally quiet. If anything I tend to be too muchof a conformist – at least in public. I want to be liked and accepted for who I am. So I tend to blend in and get overlooked. A lot. The problem is that I was brought up that actions speak louder than words. And you know what? That’s not how the world works. Not at all. It stinks. But that’s the main reason I was able to be so successful as a musician for so long – my performances spoke for themselves. And that was something I could control. Well, until it got political, but that’s another story for another day.
So why are these people usually natural magnets for others? Do they just have us all snowed? Or is it that, secretly, we’re insecure and gravitate toward them in some strange bid to feel better about ourselves? Hmmm. Need to think on that one.
Here’s my challenge. It’s multi-fold. First, I need to work on not taking other people’s actions as an affront to me. As my loving, sometimes grammatically incorrect Spouse says, ‘Don’t take it personal.’ And second, I need to stretch my introverted muscles (without conspicuously wiggling certain body parts) and work on a bit of self-promotion myself. Realize that it’s OK to talk about myself sometimes. Toot my own horn. Heck, if I pass my certification final at work next week I actually get business cards. Real. Live. Business. Cards.
See? I can do this. Just need to remind myself. Often.