What is it in us that needs attention? Not just needs, but craves, demands, searches for…
Forgive me for saying “us,” and counting you into this attention-needing group. But we are a tribe, after all. We are human. This behavior is simply in our nature, though more for some and less for others.
Do you ever feel like this? Do you have times where you feel like your phone just won’t stop jingling, people want things from you, demands coming from every angle…you’re spread thin and can’t seem to please everyone and you just want some peace and quiet? Come on, I know you have felt that way. We all have, at some point or another, had that overwhelming sensation capsize and leave us feeling like a little piece of sea glass, buffed smooth in the crashing ocean waves.
Well, what happens when the waves stop thrashing, when they fall tranquil? What happens when that perfect little piece of green sea glass washes ashore and no one’s there to pick it up? To run their hands over the smooth surface, to hold it gently after all its been through. All of the crashing subsides, the tide rolls back out…and you’re left all alone. What then?
Life ebbs and flows, much like the tides of our great ocean. When the chaos dies down, then everything gets quiet, do you indulge in a deep sigh of relief and take rest? Or do you panic, not knowing what to do without the jingling, the constant “I need something from you,” the purpose?
I’m somewhere in between, usually. I relish the silence, the solitude. But there’s an expiration date on that. If I went an entire day without my phone going off once, I admit, I might have to battle some feelings of omg no one loves me waaaaaah!
Slightly painful confession, but true nonetheless.
I have been having this experience in the past couple of days. Hot on the heels of a Holy Shitake LEAVE ME BE! couple of weeks, endless texts, calls, emails and requests…I’m left in silence. Or, seeming silence. It’s certainly not lonesome, but it’s far less “busy” than before. The resistance that’s coming up for me is unsettling. Unnerving. I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable. Which is precisely why I knew I needed to write about it.
What is it in us that makes us want attention? I find myself starting text conversations with people I don’t even really want to talk to…people I wanted space from even just days before and, once I get that space, I prod the sleeping giant. Like did you forget about me? What about me? Me me me! Even though I’d been wanting them to leave me the heck alone!
Please pardon my french here, but what the fuck is up with that?
I don’t get it. This constant need for attention. Sure, at 25 I’m wayyyy better than I was at, say, 20. Five years has offered me immense growth, perspective and independence. But I’m beginning to recognize a layer of attention neediness that resides in adulthood. I can only assume that in my forties (as I’ve heard repeatedly that they’re the best years of a woman’s life) this tendency will have declined. And by assume I mean hope.
I don’t like being needy. I’ve written ad nauseum about the neediness that came out of me in my last relationship. Ew, bleck, gross. Been there, done that, bought a t-shirt. But I’m not talking about romantic neediness, or heck, even neediness in general. I’m talking about human interactions and the desire for attention.
Even in conversations. Two people talking. The urge to unload all of one’s “latest,” the accomplishments, the vacations, the news, so on and so forth. Attention. In wanting recognition for tasks we’ve done “well.” Attention. Around friendships, even around strangers…this one’s sticky. How about when a girl gets all fancied up and goes out expecting – yep, you guessed it – attention, and receives none? We’ve seen this in so many modern chick flicks (cue the nightclub scene in Knocked Up when the sisters don’t get let inside because one’s prego and the other’s “old,” remember that? If you’ve not seen it, it’s hilarious, rent it). Attention from the opposite sex, particular male to female, that line’s about as thin a line as it gets. Too much attention and it’s inappropriate; too little and it’s like what’s wrong with me?
The demand for attention is an epidemic.
Naturally, as with all topics, this doesn’t apply to everyone in the same way. There are varying degrees of attention hungry people, but it’s there to some extent, in all of us. Even if you refuse to admit it.
So if it’s just a fact of our human nature, why am I so bugged by it? I guess because it feels almost masochistic, in a way. I find myself pushing away attention when it’s smothering me, when I’m busy as a bee and can’t answer everyone and please everyone and find the time for anyone, much less everyone. But then things slow down, I get a day off, I’m home by myself and the dog’s just staring at me and my phone has no messages. That’s when I’m like, well I’ll just text them…but then the cycle inevitably starts back up. They take forever to respond and, by the time they do, I’ve lost interest or am in the middle of yoga, or writing, or a movie or, or, or…
I might be sounding like a brat. That’s the risk one runs when one admits to the ugliness of human nature. Hi I’m Sara and sometimes I feel like an attention whore. There, I said it. It’s out. Gross.
It really does irk me, that I ever feel this way. But what I’m grateful for is that I’m cognizant of it. I am aware of the tendency to need attention. I am working towards getting a handle on it and understanding why it happens (if you’re reading this waiting for an answer, I don’t have one). I suppose that’s part of life; it’s certainly part of the yoga practice. Self-observation, self-study. Working towards understanding why we operate the way we do, why we feel the way we do; learning to not identify with these traits and qualities, learning to not dub them our “nature.” Because, my yogis know what our true nature is…
Divine light. We are divine, we are Bliss Absolute. We are not attention whores, we are beings of Divine light living in transient bodies with chattering minds that just succumb to attention whore behavior!
We are not that behavior. We simply observe and, through trial and error, devise route through this world that is least painless and most luminous. The path of least resistance.
We are bits of translucent sea glass. Buffed smooth and serene by the ocean waves. The thrashing polishes us, the stillness lets the light rest on us. We needn’t be picked up, we needn’t be held, to be our beautiful selves. The ocean will be back for us, the waves are never far off, the thrashing chaos always seeming much warmer and more familiar when the tide rolls out. We needn’t be tossing around in it incessantly to know it’s there, it makes us, and it will be back. So when the tide rolls out and everything gets quiet, may we just rest quietly in the sand, all by ourselves. May we let the sunlight rest on us, and listen to the waves in the distance.