“I feel myself trying to be charming, and then I realize I’m obviously trying to be charming, and then I try to be even more charming to make up for the fake charm, and then I’ve basically turned into Liza Minnelli: I’m dancing in tights and sequins, begging you to love me. There’s a bowler and jazz hands and lots of teeth.”
― Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Now we all know how much I loved Gone Girl (along with millions of other people), but that’s not why I chose this quote. I also don’t think I try to be particularly charming, but I sometimes I recognize that Liza Minnelli moment. I actually get caught up in the moment of just trying to be me.
During lunch with my coworkers last week, one of my new friends asked me what these “good reads” were that kept showing up on Facebook. So I explained the beauty of Goodreads, which led to another discussion of, “How do manage to read so many books?” which somehow led to, “And you have a blog?” As I tried to explain myself, and my penchant for sharing life’s moments with the virtual world, I felt the glare of the spotlight.
First of all I became the center of attention. This is a place I used to love. I literally grew up on stage. I can hold my own in the spotlight, but it’s no longer a position I seek. And I wondered in that moment how the conversation became about me? All of these people read. They all have families and most have on-line identities.
Then I started to feel a little defensive. As they asked me how I managed to keep up with all these things, the implied question seemed to be, “Why?” Why do I maintain so many threads of conversation? Am I trying to hard? Should I let something go? (I’m sure Liza has asked herself versions of these questions many times.)
In the end I laughed off the questions with a general, “I know. I’m just crazy.” (Deflection is another of my great skills.)
Once I was out of the spotlight, I realized that I am a little crazy — for imagining a spotlight where there was just inquiry. I am so grateful that my new friends are interested in me, that we can chat and laugh at lunch. It’s just been so long since I’ve let new people into my life that I forgot for a minute how to do it.
All of this happened in the space of 5 minutes. It left me a little winded. Poor Liza. This is her whole life.