Friday, January 29, 2010

You're Nobody Til Somebody

I have had the distinction of being friends with a lot of somebodies.

I have a knack for having interesting friends. Doers. People whose lives are imbued with a magical quality created by their own talents and actions. Creators. Producers. Actors.

By “actors” I mean people who take action. Those drama kids aren’t really my style.

I was thinking about this while clicking through the photographs done by a photographer friend of mine on Facebook. I tried to be a photographer. My parents bought me a really nice camera many birthdays ago—a camera that has subsequently been stolen and perhaps been put to better use by a homeless man in Deep Ellum. I was terrible. I constantly had that experience of getting my shots developed and thinking, “What was I trying to take a picture of here?” They always seemed to lack any kind of definable design. I would occasionally get the good shot here or there, but I figure this was always just dumb luck.

I also tried my hand at fashion design, but, alas, I cannot sew. I studied it for almost an entire academic year, but I eventually had to withdraw in an attempt to avoid failing. And growing up I took piano lessons, but I always lacked the discipline to become anything other than a girl who played only at her lessons and the yearly recital. I wasn’t awful. I could’ve been a whole lot better if I’d ever tried. But, again with the alas, I was not much of a tryer in those days.

Based on the feedback I’m getting from spelling and grammar check right now, though, I am apparently quite the sentence fragmenter and word maker-upper.

Sometimes when I look at my friends, an amazing group of impressive people who do really cool stuff, I feel a little like I don’t know what I do. What do I do? I paint, but I don’t paint well enough to consider myself an “artist.” I dance—at the club. I sing--in the shower, in the car, in my house when no one is home. Mostly I think--a lot--about a whole bunch of stuff no one wants to talk about. Heck, I don't even want to talk about most of it. I think in Socratic reasoning, which is a good way to deduce things in theory but mostly just frustrating in practice. Every question leads to another question. This is one of the things I love most about life. We know virtually nothing about it. But that's why most people would rather discuss the more concrete concepts presented by Jersey Shore.

That last comment makes me sound like a smarty-pants asshole, and it should. For the last few weeks I've been feeling kind of like a smarty-pants asshole.

The other night I was furiously working on an essay about pubic hair. As I worked on it, I could feel myself getting more and more worked up over the feelings of injustice around my subject matter. That's right. I've been oppressed by pubic hair. More specifically, I've been oppressed by certain people's opinions of pubic hair and what those opinions symbolize. I swear, it doesn't take much for me to feel like the bottom of the shit pile. And I may still finish said essay because, hey, who doesn't want to hear about how oppressed I am by pubic hair? But I suddenly ran out of direction about halfway through, a sure sign that I'm not sure if I totally believe in whatever it is I'm furiously saying.

The next morning I found myself thinking, "Hey, asshole, why are you so worked up over pubic hair?" I applied a little of the Socratic method to the problem and realized that I'd started taking myself way too seriously lately.

It all made sense! The rather didactic essay about how personalities are bullshit? The strange and growing obsession over whether or not I seem "interesting" to other people? The comparing myself to others, feeling personally turned out as a lame person because other people have cooler pictures on Facebook? By the way, I still stand behind the core argument in the previously mentioned essy--I just wish I hadn't sounded quite so preachy and accusatory.

Once again I'd forgotten what I learned.

What I have learned is this: I love it that I know so many awesome people. And I'm okay with the fact that I tend to be more of a chronic appreciator than an accomplisher. I love it that I do what I do because I love it, not because I'm good at it or because it might gain me something in return. I love it that I don't place those kinds of restrictions on my actions or make choices based on the accumulation of wealth or status. I don't mind if other people do their thing to accumulate wealth or status. Everyone should go after what they value most. I don't value those things. I value love in all its forms, and that's why it feels good to see my friends as such amazing people. I hate it when I start to forget these things because even the simple self-pity schtick of comparing myself to others and feeling like they make me look bad feels like my begrudging them their awesomeness.

I feel thoroughly snapped out of it for now. As soon as I realized what was happening, I had a good laugh at my own expense. It only takes about three seconds of that to evaporate all the seriousness that had slowly settled down around me, making me feel put-upon and turning me into a downer. Who cares if I'm awful-to-mediocre at a whole mess of stuff? At least I can enjoy the process of sucking.

Bad choice of words. You know what I mean.

And at least I have a talent for knowing a whole lot of people who are amazing enough to pick up my slack.

Oh, and don't worry. As soon as I finish that essay about pubic hair, you'll be the first to know.

1 comment:

  1. I tend to have conversations about this sort of sentiment with people who I feel are insanely talented and ingenious. We're a generation and society of "look at me" and I'm not going to exclude myself from that because I'm so fascinated with image and obsessive about what image it is I'm presenting to others...BUT it tends to be the people with true genius who aren't the ones that want to be noticed. I play records, I select music and use it as a means to project my tastes, interests, state of mind etc. and hope that it rubs off on others. You actually create Nan, notoriety means little as long as the process is indicative of your own influences and self.