Maybe I’m just not that interesting.
When I was a freshman in college, I read the internship board before my introduction to news writing class. One day, there was a posting from NBC Sports Press in New York City. They were looking for interns to help with the public relations arm of NBC Sports during the Barcelona Summer Olympics. Figuring “what the hell” I applied. I had a phone interview. And I got the gig.
It was a fantastic summer filled with numerous learning experiences and plenty of color characters. The next fall back on campus, I would talk about my internship and the people I met. Perhaps too much. Because one day I was talking about a reporter from USA Today who often called the office and one of the guys snapped at me. “Do you think your special because of that?”
I never talked about my internship days in Manhattan again.
Of all the gremlins I face, the one which keeps returning, the one which is most stubborn, cunning and powerful over me, is the the gremlin I’ve named “Who do you think YOU are?”
He started out as well-meaning humility, a concept drilled into my head growing up. Above all things be humble. You are not more important than anyone else. Now, I’m out to diss humility, because humility is an important quality to me. I’ll readily ask for direction if I need it. I’m genuinely interested in other people’s stories. The world does not revolve around me.
But the funny thing with my approach to humility is that it morphed into a gremlin. I ignore what I’ve done — where I’ve gone, what I’ve accomplished, what I’ve learned — out of fear of becoming a braggart. I developed a habit of discounting my experiences. And what I’ve learned is that no one wins when I do that. The people who react harshly to my stories aren’t so much reacting to me but to something that is going on inside of them. In The Four Agreements, one of the principles is to not take anything personally. Perhaps that is a definition of humility which would better guide me. Certainly the one I developed as an 8-year-old has run its course.
There has always been something reflective for me about this time of year — the end of the summer and the beginning of a new academic year. (Even years removed from school, I still have an academic year rhythm in my life.) What has 2012 brought for me so far? A trip to Baja where I swam with sea lions, kayaked, snorkeled and was encouraged by some amazing women. A chance to cover the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team in a crazy NCAA tournament run. An impromptu weekend road trip to Vermont. My first backpacking adventure. A trail marathon and my most difficult triathlon weekend ever. New friends and strengthened friendships. New opportunities and chances to create a life I love.
Maybe some people won’t find that very interesting or find my stories from those adventures boring. Maybe some will think I’m bragging and want me to shut up. But perhaps I start extinguishing this gremlin by owning my experiences. Maybe it’s time to answer the gremlin when he asks, “Who do you think YOU are?” Because that gremlin really has no idea.