Your attention, please
dedicated to Bella Banks
“If there’s anything more important than my Ego around, I want it caught and shot now.”
— our lord and savior Zaphod Beeblebrox
It’s only recently that I started posting attractive selfies on Instagram. I can’t bring myself to post anything downright sexy. No mater how much Lana Del Rey as I listen to, no matter how much there’s a part of me that wants to be the Slut Queen of Everywhere, revered and feared and adored — heaven forbid I ever tell you about that.
I’ve taken about a thousand selfies over the years, but there’s something in me that wants my self-promotion to remain private. I self-promote to myself. I talk myself up. I feel brilliant, I feel sexy, I feel enlightened, I feel fancy or glamorous or materialistic. And yet, I have such a knee-jerk reaction against presenting myself as such. Sometimes I watch celebrity interviews and pretend the world wants to know this much about me. What I eat, where I grew up, what I think about literally anything. But it’s only acceptable if other people want to know it, never if I want to share it. My Ego refuses to be Egotistical.
To paraphrase one of my favorite teachers, the Ego has but one goal and that goal is to be Good.
It’s not that my Ego has a problem with being any of the above identities, but it has a problem with presenting itself that way. It has a problem with wanting to be seen as special or desirable or incredible. It has a problem with attention-seeking, such a big problem that it shuts down any part of my personality that seeks attention and forces it to come out in more sinister and obvious displays, crying out like an incorrigible child, spewing out sideways like water through cracks in a broken pipe.
I tell myself it’s the fault of others — that they haven’t received me as amazing or desirable or wonderful, so I shut down the attempts to present myself that way. And there’s an anger in me that’s grown stronger over the years. It’s an anger at them, all of them, for not treating me as all that I am. It’s not that I’ve internalized the lukewarm reactions, in fact they’ve only hardened my resolve that I’m better than everyone, because not only am I this amazing creature, but everyone else is so blind that they even can’t see it.
Such an interesting split of the Ego consciousness. On the one hand, my Ego is terrified of any doubt of my own greatness. On the other, it’s terrified of telling the world that I’m great. But they’re the same problem (two hands always come from one body) — if I judge presenting myself as great negatively, then any attempt to do so would also be a knock to my Ego. It’s somehow only right, only acceptable, if someone else does it for me. I can take the blame off, lay it elsewhere, smile sheepishly and say, “Well, I’m not all that, really, I’m just — I’m just — I’m just…”
And I don’t know how to reconcile this.
The truth is this: I am not humble, but I think good people are humble, and I want to be good.
I want acclaim, but refuse to look for it, let alone to admit to anyone other than my own quiet mind that acclaim is a thing I want. I want admiration. I want adoration. I want attention.
But if I seek it — I will be undeserving of it. That’s how it works, you know. That’s how I’ve always believed it works. Attention-seeking people are not worth you’re time, they’re just trying to get a rise out, they’re immature. They’re weak, crying babies.
But all of our Egos are weak, crying babies. They are our vulnerability. They are the part of ourselves that is so small, fragile, and insignificant, crying out for significance because it views itself as separate from the rest of existence. Their weakness is not a bad thing. Their crying is not a bad thing. This is all beyond good and bad.
Egos are to be treated neither with the reins of power over ourselves, nor with derision and silencing. Deriding your Ego tendencies, and silencing them, is just the Ego reflecting back upon itself, splitting itself further, creating more of itself.
The only way to treat an Ego is like a baby, a child you love, that you bore, that you made and are responsible with nurturing, whose life and growth depend on you. It must be loved and accepted for what it is. It must be listened to. It must be allowed to grow up, for it isn’t actually separate from you.
Ego learns its lessons in honesty. It learns its lessons in choice, in choosing to be honest. Not brutally so, but kindly. Honesty for the sake of kindness to it. Ego integrates in listening to its needs, its desires, and its fears (it has so very many of those).
Because we integrate in listening to our needs, our desires, and our fears.
So, from my Ego to yours, this is my cry for attention. My willing admission that my Ego is terrified of admitting my desire for attention. And a cheeky note that I’m passing this off onto my Ego still as though it were somehow separate from me, a scapegoat onto whom I can pin my desires that I don’t find acceptable.
Which is yet more abuse of my Ego, and so, yet more abuse of myself.