I joke sometimes about how attention starved I am. I suppose having a blog feeds into that. I mean, how needy am I that I had to go online to cultivate more attention? Isn’t almost 1000 Facebook buddies enough? No! Never Enough!! But, the need for attention is a real thing. Not at a celebrity level, but I like people knowing I am around. I haven’t always felt that way, and sometimes I don’t want people to notice I am around. It sounds very conflicting, but it’s my prerogative to be a whack job. I do what I want, as I am fond of saying.
I was pretty shy as a kid. People don’t always believe me when I tell them that. But it is true, it pained me to be around people and to have to talk to them. I stayed pretty quiet a lot of the time, I would hang around the fringe, present but not really contributing. I kind of think I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. It’s hard to put it into words because when I look back at little Carol, I see a lonely kid who wasn’t really ever alone. I had siblings, tons of cousins we would see often enough, and I got along with other kids. But I see myself in my memories outside of the circle. Shy.
When I made the move from Catholic grade school, where the cliques and friendship circles were well defined, I made a very conscious decision to put myself out there a little bit more. These kids in Kimberly didn’t know me, didn’t know that I felt like the odd one out most of my childhood, and I was going to change that. I didn’t have much of a plan, but I did know one girl, my friend Stacy, that would help me even if I hadn’t exactly told her of my agenda. It did work, with a lot of pep talks to myself I made it a point to talk to more people, make some actual eye contact, and make friends. I made some great friends, people I still know and love very much today. I used a sense of humor, and some genuine interest to get there, and I look back and think that I didn’t really have to try nearly as hard as I thought I would have to, because I found a way to be myself, even if I wasn’t sure who I was yet. I just knew I didn’t want to be who I used to be, outside looking in. Be a friend, you will make friends. Best advice I ever got from someone so many years ago, and it still holds.
Now, the reason I have been thinking about all of this lately is that I have been put in a position where I have had to put myself out there again. When I bartended and served, if I wanted to make money, I had to put it out there for people, be a likeable and friendly person. The Shy Girl still lives here, but she knows the persona that needs to be out there to make the cold hard cash. As a result, I made more friends. Lots of friends, some co-workers, some customers that turned into friends. It was a win-win, and I cherish so many of those friendships. I didn’t have to fight for attention, it came to me. Turn it on, turn it off. I could go home and let the Shy Girl relax at the end of the day. Because believe it or not, she is still with me. I just am better at bossing her around than I was as a kid.
I have been transitioning into a less socially exciting environment. I do not want to knock the Office Culture, at all. But that dynamic is so different. If you get along with people, the days go by well, and there are some good shenanigans going on, but it is so quiet in comparison to cooks yelling at people in a kitchen, and cussing under your breath at cheapskates. Getting attention is harder, but not impossible. But how do you want to get it? I am going with the old sense of humor standby, and by being a friend to make friends. It is going well. But I see the attention thing is harder for some people. And to attention seek while still being likeable is a fine line. I appreciate the ones that are doing it with food. Winner, every time. But it isn’t always that simple, unfortunately. My love can be bought with a chocolate filled donut, but annoying me with childish behavior and a cookie on the side won’t work so well. I am working on ignoring the childish aspect while still enjoying the cookie. I am just thankful that I am able to recognize how I want to be noticed is different, less intrusive, and appreciated. I am not so needy that I need to be the loudest, or the most graphic to get the attention and validation. I do have to be the sneakiest to get the good donuts, however.
It’s about growth and balance, really. Are you trying to grow as a person, or just get noticed? I didn’t want to be the lonely shy girl anymore, so I found a way that got me some attention, but still honored the Shy Girl, because she needs to breathe too. You want to be loved, but it’s important to be liked as well. I want some peace, but a little action now and again too. I can look backwards at that little girl outside the window and feel bad for her, or I can make her some friends at long last. Get her noticed, a little attention, without taking anything away from how she ended up outside the circle, just open that circle a little wider, that’s all. She doesn’t have to stand in the middle of that circle if she doesn’t feel comfortable, just let her hang as a part of it. She will find her way, and get the attention when she is ready for it. There are lessons inside and outside the circle. I think to be comfortable with your spot in that circle is the most important thing, and how you build that comfort will keep you from starving.