04 March 2012

Center of Attention

Sophia Vergara, President Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, and our dog, all like to be the center of attention.

Me? No. Yet people - including dear friends - think I enjoy being center of attention. Or maybe crave attention. And because of this perception, I am teased. I get embarrassed. I want to instantly crawl under a table or just disappear.

Don't get me wrong. I like getting attention, but in a more balanced approach: one on one attention, or maybe on days that are important to be thought of like our wedding or my birthday. Of course I like to get attention all the time from my husband, my parents, my dog. In reality, I don't always get what I want. I digress...

I just don't like a room or table full of people to all of sudden shine a spotlight on me. It makes me uncomfortable because that's the modest part of my personality . Sure I like to look presentable and cute; this is simply saying I respect myself and I respect my company (and maybe I have a body to wear a nice pair of jeans and I own some fabulous lipsticks).

Attention for Performing vs. Not
As an artsy, creative thinking Aquarius, I have an adoration for performing. This started at a very young age when at 8 months, I said "Look mom! I am walking!". My mom was smart enough to enroll me in dance classes at age 4 in which I naturally took to the stage and was gifted with long, lean limbs for ballet. I loved performing. It could be during training, at recitals, ballets, or even in front of friends and family at home. I wasn't me anymore; I was a performer, free to be whoever. On stage, I felt alone, blinded by the lights. The movement and music were my audience. Performing in a ballet and getting a standing ovation is euphoric.

Then there was the time I was a competitive swimmer. I wanted to do my best for my team, for me. When the team was tasked to raise money for a charity - $.10 for every lap - I was determined to swim the most laps over anyone else. I swam for 10 hours straight. When I got an applause for my efforts, I knew I had done my job.

Another time I knew I was a performer was when an older boy always asked for a foot race after lunch. He didn't like that I told him I was faster and stronger than him. Yet I always won our little playground races, and stood proud amongst my friends, even when I lost my lunch a couple of times.

Today when I race, I may not be racing a specific competitor, but I am performing. I can't stand at a start line and not give it my all. I thrive amongst the spectators because I am a performer. I live for the finish-line.

...vs. not.

Being a Valentine baby means a little extra attention than non-Holiday baby. I actually enjoy it, except one time I will never forget: third grade.

My teacher and I shared the same birthday and I loved this because I loved her. When I arrived to class that February 14th morning, all the desks had been rearranged; they were all in a big circle with one desk in the middle: mine. She said the Valentine birthday girl got to sit in the middle. Though I enjoyed the birthday cake and class singing Happy Birthday, I felt like everyone was staring at me all day.

When Performances Get Awkward
Some performances though, have gotten the wrong attention. Not all attention is good and sometimes it is just dang akward for the audience and embarrassing for the performer.

I was once tasked to give a presentation to my department, which was approximately 60+ people. It wasn't my largest crowd (400+). I had given presentations before to my department, my group, Toastmasters, school. Some go well and some should come with a rewind button. This was one of those times. I decided to add some humour to my opening presentation, but when the audience wasn't laughing (or hardly smiling), I knew my jokes had fallen flat and I'd have to quickly move on to business. (Now I know comedians have the hardest job next to POTUS!)

Another performance I can think of was not me, but an entertainer: Angelina Jolie who was on the 2012 Academy Award stage to present an award. Angie was dressed to the nines in this gorgeous black, strapless gown with a huge front split over the right leg. As an entertainer to entertain us, she came up to the microphone and threw her leg out to strike a pose. For whatever reason, the pose wasn't working and she attempted about 3 times to get it right. You could hear her chuckling during this time, whether to mask the awkwardness or purposefully to sound a bit devilish. Either way, it was jaw-dropping and left us speechless (and media-frenzied and some women very pissed off, but that's another blog post).

What is my Point?
What is my point to all of this? I guess I felt I needed to still try to understand why certain attentional circumstances make me uncomfortable when I purely enjoy performing on stage and welcome an audience/spectators' attention.

Now I understand. We are all unique through our complex personalities. Amen to that.

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