Monday, September 05, 2011

background [bak-ground]

the ground or parts, as of a scene, situated in the rear ( opposed to foreground);
the part of a painted or carved surface against which represented objects and forms are perceived or depicted: a portrait against a purple background; the part of an image represented as being at maximum distance from the frontal plane.

Synonyms include: accomplishments, experience, backdrop

The girl was crying, saying how all through school, all through her childhood, and now in her young adult life, she'd always just almost get the part, almost get the spotlight, but never quite got to be that one - the chosen one. She's a young dancer on Laurieann Gibson's reality show, Born to Dance, and to her seemingly hopeless, tearfilled face, Laurieann said, "You dance like the girl who doesn't get picked." There sure is a whole lotta wisdom under all that boomkack, because it hit me - I'm her, the girl who doesn't get picked, and for once I'm starting to realize that maybe that's my fault.

Yes, I've had my share of the spotlight. In general though, my M.O. is to stay in the background, work behind the scenes, manage the details that no one really notices. I always said I'd never be a good boss, preferring to report to a higher power than be that power myself. I'd rather work in supportive, less glamourous and less prominent positions, like assistants, logistical coordinators, wedding planners or second shooters. Even being student council president in the 8th grade meant a lot of dirty work that often went unnoticed. But I never minded. The work got done and I knew I had a part in it and, truly, how could that not be enough for me? There is absolutely no shame in playing these roles, and frankly I don't just NOT mind it - I rather enjoy it. The trouble comes, however, when I need more for and from myself and sitting and working in the background where no one sees me can be a problem...a big one.

How did I expect to make a living as a writer if I refuse to show people work I've spent a lot of time and careful thought writing because I'm afraid I'll be told how awful I am instead of being hungry for the guidance I so wish I had? How does someone like me, who has never taken a photography class, call herself an aspiring photographer when I see another photographer's images and mentally punish myself for not being that good instead of getting out there and searching for help?

Though I've been on the receiving end of generous accolades, I've also been the one who often thinks she doesn't deserve it. In the process of growing up in a humble household, I've mistaken humility for self-deprecation and they are, in fact, not even close to being the same thing.

I'm not cutthroat at anything, I tell myself. I'm not a vicious social climber who'd sell her soul to the devil to be the best at something. Live like the nice girl, I remind myself. Live life straight, no shortcuts, no over the top gimmicks, etc. And while that seems to be a good plan, I also don't want the fate of the "nice girl." If at all possible, I'd rather not finish last.

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