Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Introspection Overload ...

Don't ask me where it's coming from tonight, but I'm writing it down.

A couple Sundays ago, I was at a bridal shower for a cousin who I haven't seen since his brother was married three years ago. I was standing in a room full of people I haven't seen since then, and we were making the expected polite small talk.

"So, what are you doing these days?" they all asked.

And so I told them: I'm still writing freelance, I'm doing some editing for an IT consulting firm I used to work for, I'm still working on the screenplay, I'm taking voice lessons.

"That's great," they all said. "You look happy!"

And later, at home, I thought, "Maybe I'm looking at my life the wrong way."

Yesterday, I was at my sister-in-law's sister-in-law's, returning some sunglasses that her husband left at my house on the 4th of July. The kids were asleep, so we plopped down in the living room to chat.

Those of you who know me know that I don't talk about myself much. In a group setting, I'm the one most likely to be listening. Many conversations with Dave contain the question: "But what's going on with you, Beth?" I'm perfectly content to let people talk and talk and talk. I feel weird talking about myself. Chalk it up to years of conditioning. Mom raised me to be humble.

But yesterday, in the living room, I was talking. And my sister-in-law's sister-in-law, in her comments back to me, had a view of my life that I never see. Like the people at the shower, she was hearing tales of a worldly, interesting existence.

Do I not see it because I'm in it? Because humility dictates that I don't boast, so when I actually tell people a story of something cool that's happened, they mirror that back to me in their responses, and I see it through someone else's eyes?

But then I think, no, it's not my life that's so interesting. It's the lives of the people I know. I know a former advice columnist and senior feature writer at the Wall Street Journal, but I'm not that accomplished. I know an actor who gets more than his share of work in Hollywood, but I'm not a celebrity. I know a composer who's friends with a rock star, but I'm not the rock star's friend.

So I can tell good stories, but they're not my stories. Is my life interesting by association?

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