Swimming delightfully into my consciousness after my last post about the quiet people, entitled “Why I Don’t Belong Here”, comes this lovely blog description of the life of a woman who elected to be quiet, unnoticed, and helpful—and in the process facilitated one of the greatest works of Western literature:
Several years ago I had a job doing legal research and writing for a very important project that my boss, a woman law professor, was doing. She did all the promoting, cajoling, publicizing, explaining, and generally being up front on the matter. I did most of the background stuff. The background stuff was hard too, and my ego was constantly being bruised by the fact that other people assumed that all the expertise lay with her, and none with me.
But you know, I took great pleasure in facilitating that lady’s work! And I now know for a fact that if I had ever tried to do her job and be the person up front my anxious nature would have made the job a perpetual misery for me.
In the end that big law revision project was excellently done, and I was proud of it. Now, at long last, I’m also proud of my backoffice role in creating it as well. It was a job made for me! My pervasive unhappiness then was in part a matter of temperament, but mostly a product of the culture I live in, which says that we should all want and strive to be a star.
Even then, twenty years ago, I was already beginning to know from bitter experience that I would have an anxiety attack every single time I stepped to the fore. But I wanted to be the star anyway, dammit! Later, I made a dumbass career change in pursuit of that stardom, to my great misfortune.
Culture had trumped my own real nature so thoroughly that I acted against it and my own best interests without knowing I was doing so. I would never have believed that phenomenon if I hadn’t lived it!
Has it happened to you?