Thursday, December 01, 2005

Welcome to My Ego

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Believe it or not, my ego hides somewhere way deep down inside. Every now and again it rises to the surface...usually with a little help along the way.

People who meet me or even read my comments on their blogs or my e-mails might think I'm self-assured and forward, but in fact that's not so. I'm still rather shy, a leftover from childhood, and I compensate in different ways. Those different ways make me appear outgoing and sometimes the life of the party.

Some people are modest when it comes to accepting compliments, and they shirk from the limelight or from being on the receiving end of praise. Interestingly enough, my young children follow this path. They definitely do not want to be singled out in front of others in recognition of something positive, ie. positive behavior, good reports, etc. Eve when it's just my husband or myself giving them a compliment privately, they whine a bit, and their body language and expression show they do not want this. I wonder at this behavior at so young an age, and in a way I hope they maintain this "I don't need praise, I don't need recognition" throughout their lives. I hope they're comfortable enough in their own skin to recognize their own achievements and not wait for others to heap on compliments. Yes, my husband and I will continue to recognize the positive traits or successes they display and will remark on them, whether the children want us to or not. Deep down, everyone needs a positive word.

Yes, deep down, everyone needs a positive word. I am one of those people: I flourish when I'm told I write well, or I sing well, or I have a good way with others, or I'm on target with meeting my personal goals. Low self-esteem and shyness, leftovers from childhood, take the back seat when something positive comes my way.

Today I had a phone call praising work I'd done for a new freelance client. I'd retrieved phone messages at home and heard the client identify himself -- it was a long-distance call from the West Coast -- and go on to tell me how pleased he was with my work and my level of professionalism. I thought I was dreaming; I've been a copy editor for many years, and a reasonably good one; I've even managed to save a number of editors' and authors' tushies with changes I've made to manuscripts, or changes I've suggested. But never before had I received such a glowing praise. I'm hoping that it wasn't a one-time case of good luck -- perhaps any future manuscripts I work on for this client might not be reasonably clean and they might need major revisions, and I might not be so on the ball when I work on one of his books. But I'd like to think that my editing abilities would carry me over to every and any manuscript I'd work on for him and others.

My ego gets excited to hear such praise, gets riled up when it gets such positive reinforcement. The excitement lingers for several hours or even a few days, and then my ego realizes the time has passed, and it's time to tamp itself down once again.

And once it's settled, way below the surface, my ego is always silently waiting, silently watching, silently wondering when it will get a chance to make its next personal appearance.