Being the center of the universe

Periodically I have these jarring reality checks where I wonder if my ego is so huge that I think everything is all about me. In truth, probably my ego is living well below its means. Maintaining the blog, writing so much about my life and times and the minutia of my day-to-day adventures feels a lot like a one-sided chat-fest with me not taking a breath and effectively blocking anyone else from providing input.

But no, I do not routinely think I am the center of the universe. If anything I tend to understate my role in this world where I do live and thrive.

A blogger I have followed since she began writing referenced me by name yesterday. The context was ambiguous, and I should have known and trusted her to be far too gracious to call me out in the bad ways in a public forum. I wrote her an email apologizing if I had offended or hurt her feelings in any way by my comment, because that is never my intent. Despite her own struggles right now, she was gracious in her reassurance and I was weak-kneed with relief. Even in the relative anonymity of blogville I would never, ever want to have even a whiff of mean-girl attitude directed toward me.

It got me thinking about how I perceive myself in the bigger picture of blogging, having followers (I think I just crested 200), and being real in other aspects of my life.

My space in the bigger picture is unique and not especially outstanding. And I am perfectly okay with that. In life as well as online, I am happy another face in the crowd of other bright, shiny, smiling faces. I dislike being the center of attention.

In my new business launch, I had grave fears of not acquiring another new client, of going on the budgetary crash diet. I lack confidence in my ability to effectively market myself and my talents, to use my network to expand my client base. It has definitely been a learning experience. I have accepted work in the last couple of months out of a sense of fear that nothing else would come along. I have put up with and endured meetings with awful, despicable people that I do not want to work with ever again because I am a grown-up who honors her agreements and fulfills her responsibilities. But sure enough, those I like the least are the ones who seem to have the most lucrative and interesting follow-on work for me. I am relearning how to work with difficult people for the sake of my fledgling business. My optimism goes into overdrive as I desperately hope to find some neutral ground where the client is not grating on my last raw, exposed nerve every single second of our interactions and my heart does not fill with dread every time I see his name in my unread email.

I realize that part of the reason I dislike this person is because he shoves me into the center of the meeting and makes the project’s success or failure entirely my responsibility. I am the “face” of this project to his bosses and the rest of this firm, and it is both uncomfortable and unfair. The whiney child inside wants to have a tantrum and rail against the injustice of being in this position, because my social skills are stretched and challenged by having to be attentive and responsive in this way. I am much happier in a behind-the-scenes, supportive role. As long as my invoices are paid, I am truly happy for the client to take primary credit and accept accolades for the successes we will enjoy. Conversely, I will feel completely responsible for any and all failures, my fault or not. The mere idea of failing is what spurs me on to work harder and try to be logical and systemic in removing any roadblocks between me and successful conclusion of my commitments.

Last week I began an online writing class to help with business communications. While I have been working as some version of a supervisor and/or manager for nearly 30 years, I still feel stymied by the pressure of writing a concise communication detailing a complex or multi-faceted issue. Even here on the blog I recognize the ping-pong effect of my thoughts and how they are presented. Mostly it’s fine here; I am not using this as a marketing tool or an income-generating venture. Having more clarity and skills/tools to organize my thoughts and the ability to present information clearly is always going to be a good thing.

But I must say I am dismayed by my peers in this course. Whereas I went for a thorough and thoughtful response to the week’s discussion board topics, much of what I am reading is akin to very shallow comments. Granted it is only the first week, and perhaps it gets better. I would much rather read a scathing, well-considered response to the discussion topic or my submission than the blithe and breezy comments I am reading.  The limited feedback received thus far fall into the “wow, you really thought about this” camp, as if we are constrained by a 240 character limit and must not provide any relevance to the topic at hand.

I am mostly disappointed. I enrolled to sharpen my skills in presenting my thoughts, ideas, and arguments in a logical and persuasive manner. Was I too verbose? Could I have been clearer or more organized? Perhaps my expectations for feedback are set too high? I feel sort of naked, and now kind of stupid, for taking the topic seriously and for composing a response as if it were a real-life business situation. I am now second guessing myself about the course and whether or not it is a good fit for me and what I am seeking. My awkward/nerdy girl is standing in the spotlight and uncomfortable with it.

No matter what the situation, I want to step back into he shadows and become lost in the crowd. If I had any desire to be the center of the universe, it would have to be a really tiny and in a galaxy far, far away.

Taking a breath now, so let’s talk about you ….

Wishing you all a pleasant and peaceful Sunday.

2 thoughts on “Being the center of the universe

  1. Let’s start with “fake till you make it”. Cause that is what you have to do. I am the same – let the client take the credit, I take the blame. But if they are willing to give you both (so few are actually) then you need to embrace both. It is ok to be successful. Honest!
    I think as time passes and you get more established you will get more comfortable turning down work, gauging the cost/benefit of the situation and working with difficult people who as your client, are the boss.
    I’m sorry to hear the writing course isn’t what you expected. I would keep at it and see if it improves or you find one or two like minded people that put a similar level of effort in. You might consider identifying someone you know who you think is a good business writer/communicator or a local professor, etc and ask if they would look at your writing. Someone with experience that has an unbiased view. Might be a quicker/more effective way to get *good* feedback.
    And so you know it isn’t all about you 😉 I will likely be a slow/less frequent commentator the next three weeks – I’m headed to New Zealand for three weeks for a personal adventure and will have far less computer time!

    • Have a FABULOUS time on you grand adventure! Is this your first trip to NZ? M and I talk about such faraway adventures, but it’s not on our radar anytime soon. So much of the US we have yet to explore together.
      The writing course is disappointing thus far only that it seems to be populated by 20-somethings that are in a completely different headspace (or so it seems thus far). I am surrounded by really interesting, smart 20-somethings (my kids, their SOs, their friends, J, other close friends) and these classmates seem so one-dimensional. I’ll stick with the class, because I am certain I will learn from it if not my peers. Plus I was hampered and distracted by the lame foot – thankfully much improved from the weekend. I have worked out since last Thursday that I feel like the kid who has not done her homework and is showing up to class completely unprepared.

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