Monday, November 28, 2016

You Be the Judge

Hey, Friends.

So, I was standing in line to get coffee this morning, minding my own business and listening to the two guys in front of me having a conversation about some sports thing.  (I honestly don't know what they were talking about -- I don't watch sports except for the Olympics, the World Cup, and the Super Bowl half-time show.)  I'm going to paraphrase their conversation, except for the part at the end which is an exact quote because it is burned into my memory and has haunted me all day. M'kay?

Dude #1: Says something sports related

Dude #2: What?  What makes you say that?

Dude #1: I read it online...blahblahblahsportsblahblah wesbite

Dude #2: What website?

Dude #1: Well, it's a blog.

Dude #2: Oh, forget then.  I don't pay attention to blogs.

Dude #1: Why not?  You were just interested in it like a second ago.

Dude #2: "Bloggers are all just a bunch of narcissistic assholes who think their opinions are more important than everyone else in the world."

And that's when I tuned out.  Clearly they were not talking to me.  I don't know them, they weren't paying the slightest bit of attention to me, and I highly doubt they have ever stumbled their way to our little speck of the internet here.

It still hit a little close to home, Friends, and the thought kicked around in my brain all day.

I have a blog.  Do I come off as a narcissistic asshole?  I hope not, truly.

I mean, I'm sure I have my asshole moments -- we all do.  We're human.  I admit to being narcissistic at times as well.  I'm far from perfect.  In fact, this whole post could be a prime example of being what this guy hates because it is going to involve a lot of navel-gazing, Friends.  You can bail now if that isn't your cup of tea.

I would never attempt to explain or defend all bloggers.  I know very few people with blogs.  I can only speak for myself here.

I think people create things because they want to share it with others.  It might be writing a screenplay, a poem, a painting, writing a song, crafting the perfect joke, or even just a humble blog. It's trying to capture an ephemeral feeling, or a moment, and asking other people to share in it. Maybe the goal is to help someone, or just to bring a little humor into the world. It's putting a little bit of yourself out there, your heart, your world view -- whatever you chose to present -- and seeing how it resonates. People might hate it and think you are a narcissistic asshole.  Fair enough.  But it might help one person, or bring a smile to someone's otherwise shitty day.  There might be one person out there who identifies, who feels it.  That's enough to make it worthwhile.  It helps to sort through the shit in your own head, and maybe the reaction it spurs can end up helping you in the end by giving a different perspective on the matter.

Personally, I like writing as a way to express my thought and ideas.  I have to slow down and think about what I'm saying before just shooting off my mouth.  It helps to clarify my thoughts and gives me time to reflect on what I'm actually trying to express.

Also, I absolutely hate public speaking, and I am naturally incredibly shy when meeting new people. I'm never going to be the person out on stage in a spotlight, or reading a new poem at an open mic night.  That's the fuel for nightmares, in my book. I'm not exaggerating.  Been like this my entire life, although I have gotten much better and less awkward over the years.

My Mother tells a story about trying -- yeah trying -- to get me to go see Santa when I was little.  I was fine the entire time we were waiting in line, and when the moment came and I realized I would have to go talk to him?  No way.  I covered my face with my hands, because if I couldn't see him then he couldn't see me and it wasn't happening. I kept telling her, "I don't want to tell him, you tell him." Even the allure of my own candy cane could not make me go to talk to him.

Let's talk about the hell that was any kind of presentation that involved public speaking, all through high school and college.  It wasn't a matter of not having done the work, or not having understood the material.  I am a huge geek.  I love doing research.  I'm the kid who was stoked the first time we ever got a homework assignment in elementary school. I'm ridiculously competitive, even if it is only me against a test.  If there is a score or competition involved?  I'm going to do my level best to kick ass.

I clearly remember having to do a presentation, about Super Bowl ads of all things, in an advertising class in college.  Of course I had done all of the research, watched the game, took notes on the ads while watching the game.  Drove my roommates insane making them listen to my presentation over and over so it was the right length.  I gave myself pep talks: class is at 8 am and half the class is going to be asleep or hungover.  No one wants to be there that early, let alone paying attention to a presentation.  Don't actually look at anyone, just stare at the wall over their heads or the note cards.  My hands were shaking so bad the entire time I was worried about dropping my note cards.  By the end of what was really a short presentation, I was tipping my head back slightly as I spoke because I could feel my throat closing up and was desperately trying to just force out the words.  Give me a term paper any day rather than a presentation.

Then there was the presentation I had to do on renewable energy in another class.  I remember begging one of the smartest guys in the class (his name was Ben) to please, for the love of all that is holy, do not ask me any questions afterward.  Of course he didn't listen and had to ask a bunch of questions.  It was my own personal hell, and I just wanted to crawl under a rock.

As I said, I've gotten a lot better over the years.  I credit a lot of that to my sorority sisters in college. WHAT?! Yes, I was in a sorority -- I was actually the President for a year.  Shocker!  Once I'm comfortable around you, you can't shut me up.  I have no problem putting myself out there in a leadership role, either.  I'm just a ball of contradictions!  The first time I had to run a meeting I was terrified.  I was worried about messing up, or disappointing them somehow. And then I managed to just relax, because while there were a lot of people staring at me, it was going to be okay. These were my friends, and even if I messed up they weren't going to hold it against me.  That experience alone helped so much I can't even explain.

My job has also helped tremendously.  When I first started working at the library it was terrifying.  I felt like all of the patrons were staring at me when I was working on the circulation desk.  And I had to talk to strangers all. day. long.  Those first few months were exhausting.  Now I am used to talking to strangers all of the time, listening to their stories, being screamed at and called a bitch because I won't waive their fines.  Every day is an adventure when you deal with the public.

But back to my point, Friends.

It's a personal preference, comfort thing for me.  I'm never going to be the person who wants to claim the spotlight, who wants all the attention focused on them.  I mean...yeah, it would be pretty sweet, not gonna lie, but then people would probably expect me to say or do something in that spotlight, and I would freeze up like a deer in headlights.  There are people who are seemingly meant to do that: they are mesmerizing, charming, and just kind of draw people to them.  Doesn't matter what they are doing -- they might be famous, or they might just be the center of their group of friends.  They have that inner sparkly thing that draws attention to them and they are happy to bask in it.  I prefer a quieter, subtler kind of attention.

Having said all of that, Friends, I hope I don't sound like a narcissistic asshole.  I do try not to be an asshole.  I hope that whatever I've shared here has never come off as being holier than thou, or that my opinion is the right one and everyone else is wrong.  I'd consider that a pretty asshole move.

A special note to my Friends here that I don't actually know:

Hi there.  If we ever should meet up -- you know, in real life -- just don't assemble in a large group. I think we've established that I don't deal well with those situations. Otherwise we should be cool.

**Unless you are someone I am attracted to and/or admire.  Then that shit is out the window and I am probably going to be a hot mess.  Fair warning.**

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