1. of no special quality or interest; commonplace; unexceptional.
au·thor talk (noun)
1. an event which promotes the fear of being ordinary, or boring an audience to tears.
Most of us don’t jump for joy at the thought of talking in public. Some of us would rather eat their own liver. Is it something to do with setting yourself up for comparison to others?
Unless I’m compelled by a burning desire to comment or ask a question, I usually remain silent during events, or meetings at work. I want to feel safe, to be 100% sure of my facts before I open my mouth and embarrass myself. By the time I’ve done that, the agenda has moved on. There is no editing when you think on your feet.
Why are we so nervous about what other people think? We all have foibles, fears, odd opinions, guilt trips, repressed thoughts, halls of shame etc. We’re all searching, confused, want to belong, be liked and loved (unless we’re sociopaths).
Back in the day, when we lived in caves, or in witch-hungry, walled towns, our survival depended on staying with the herd. Being different was dangerous.
Vladimir: How do you know she’s a witch?
Peasant: She looks like one!
Not being part of the social pack can still feel edgy today. To admit an opinion, be somehow different or hold yourself up for judgement is still scary, and leaves us vulnerable.
Technology has now given us a window into the the far extremes of so many human endeavours. It’s not good enough just being ordinary any more. You Tube and other media show us a vast smorgasbord of the best, worst, the experts for everything, from amazing sports/cooking/dancing/singing, to the world’s most embarrassing bodies/fetishes/unusual behaviours. People on Facebook seem to have SO many close friends, fantastic lives, fun times……
To put your humble art, opinions, writing etc out there in this increasingly incredible world with no assurance of positive acknowledgement is scary. But if I don’t do it, I’ll miss a chance to connect meaningfully with people in a way that matters to me. So there I stood in front of 20 or so friendly Darwinians who bothered to come and listen to me on a very humid Thursday evening. It was my author talk. There was wine, cheese and biscuits. The librarians had been very welcoming and friendly, and I was most grateful that Darwin library had given me the opportunity to speak.
I was nervous. Readers have said positive things about my book, but perhaps in Darwin, where the book is set, I will offend the locals, somehow. I am worried I will not please, no one will laugh at my lame jokes. Trying to be perfect and making everybody happy takes you to a place far away from being yourself, a bland place. I’d uninvited my poor, understanding husband, so I could be open and talk about my sexy male lead as if he is chocolate deluxe , not lite vanilla.
So, I will be me, I think. I’ll default to being honest, even a little goofy which hopefully comes across as affable. It worked as a teacher. Hopefully it will work now. As I wait for people to settle in their seats, I wonder how many of us are ambiverts, then try to shrug off the natural inclination we have to label ourselves and others. Us and them. Labels build walls, ordinary walls.
So I spoke of Arafura, of how sharing my writing is like walking through the mall naked, with the high chance of no one noticing. That I love writing more than I’m scared about that. It’s a challenging and rewarding journey, where I’ve ended up asking more questions about humanity than finding answers, but still learnt more about people than in all of my psych subjects at uni.
I got a laugh or two when speaking of my girlfriend’s ‘ovary-acting’ to my main male character, and how I believe we can all change, if we’re open to it. That love is uncertain, and accepting that can lead to deeper connections. In Arafura, a leopard can change his or her spots, if he or she is motivated.
I discussed the sequel, where Kat’s (main female lead) resilience is put to the test, the baddies play a much larger role, and ‘loose ends’ from Arafura are resolved. I even accidentally gave away a major part of the story (yep, goofy). Also, that I’d like to write a third book, where I explore Indigenous issues with more courage, where I don’t have the answers, but want to ask the questions.
In the end, it was worth the angst. I do enjoy connecting with people and this lovely audience would have handed me some clothes in the mall. A couple of generous souls even offered their help with certain aspects of the sequel.
Being ordinary is fine. Despite all the funny things, the glorious achievements we see, and people’s wonderful lives on Facebook etc, is it healthier, emotionally, to let go of comparisons, of what people we don’t really know, think?
Most of us are ordinary at most things, but I’d like to offer a proviso. We are not born into equal circumstances with equal DNA mapping. Even through effort alone, we are all still better at some things than others.
I was always amazed how much my students took that to heart, even the eight year olds. Don’t be daunted by comparisons (I’m telling myself this too). It’s satisfying to have a passion, a dream; they can give our lives extra-ordinary meaning.
Dare to dream, even if you don’t wish to go public about it!
Any thoughts? 🙂
An article of interest about happy being average, embracing the fact that not everyone can be a winner, nor wants to be, by Wendy Squires – http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/wendy-squires-20140218-32y7g.html