By Charles Olafare
I made a good piece of work that a lot of people seemed to like. I got pats on the back, a high-five or two and some very encouraging feedback from the mentors. It felt really uncomfortable.
Strange, really. I’m often the first to describe myself as a bit of an attention seeker. With a voice this deep and a laugh this booming, I could hardly be seen as the shy retiring type.
In fact, there are few things I won’t say or do for a laugh: I once called my best mate a paedo during his speech at his own birthday party. Later that evening, I drank Guinness out of my own Doc Marten boots. Everyone loved it, we still talk about it to this day. I’ve pissed in strangers’ shampoo bottles without them knowing. Said mean things to minor celebrities at shit house parties. Purposefully and wantonly gotten myself into and out of all kinds of shenanigans, just that I could tell a wry self-deprecating story about it later.
So why does getting attention for doing something people actually like feel so weird? How can it feel simultaneously like a job well done and praise entirely unearned?
Maybe it’s a self esteem thing. I spoke to a therapist about this sort of thing once. They suggested that I do and say silly things to project a negative image of myself – a sort of defense mechanism or something. That makes sense, I guess. Maybe making people laugh for relatively good reasons felt a bit too much like the mask slipping and revealing someone who takes things seriously. Bleurgh!
Perhaps it’s all to do with the fact that doing well at something raises people’s expectations of you. From that point onwards your next move has to better than your last, or at least just as good. I’m absolutely certain that by either accident or design, the next thing I do will be either shit or passable. Yikes!
It could be that readily accepting any kind of praise feels to me, only a stone’s throw away from being vain and self involved. Two character traits I’m terrified of being accused of having and try my best to avoid – except when writing blog posts about how weird it feels to have made an alright poster. Boo hoo hoo, woe is me!
Oh well, who bloody knows and who bloody cares! Thank god it’s half term and I can spend a week without over or under thinking every little thing.