I tried out for a game show once, when I lived in California. I answered all the questions correctly and even got a call-back. But I didn’t make it because I was not “bubbly” enough. Well, they certainly had me there. I am definitely not the “bubbly” type. Perhaps it’s my Norwegian heritage. Norwegians don’t tend to bounce up and down and scream and wave their arms a lot.
I am often excited about things, and sometimes elated. But even then I am not “bubbly.” Something there is in me which insists on keeping the cork in the bottle.
I am also aware that my non-bubbly-ness has often been a drawback. There are times when I would truly like to let my inhibitions go. But I don’t, and I can’t. I remember going to see Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake on Broadway seven times, which involved two separate trips from Wisconsin. Every performance got a standing ovation, and I wanted more than anything to yell “Bravo!” like so many others were doing, or simply shouting. I even opened my mouth and tried to let something out. But I could not. I clapped. And I deeply resented myself for being such a dud.
Being excruciatingly self-conscious makes it difficult to be bubbly.
I used to go to the dance bars in L.A. when disco was king—always with friends and always at their insistence—and I could never get out there and dance. When I was on occasion physically dragged out on the floor I was excruciatingly embarrassed. “But nobody is watching you!” my friends would say. “I’m watching me,” I’d reply.
But as for hands-over-the-head-clapping-
and-swaying-in-time-with-the- music, forget it. Even at gay pride parades, where the enthusiasm is almost palpable and everyone is more animated than ten Pixar films, I stand there like a statue. I’m loving it, but I’m not showing it.
Of course, being bubbly has its limits. Natural bubbliness is admirable, indicating a genuinely happy openness. But we all know people whose effervescence is about as natural as the audience response on a TV infomercial, and it is only with great effort that I am able to resist reaching out and throttling them.
It goes back, I suppose, to the fact that I expect so much of myself. I want to be bubbly. I want to be graceful. But I am not and never have been. Rather than try, and make a fool of myself in my own eyes, I do nothing and thereby risk making a fool of myself in the eyes of others. I have always been terrified of standing out in a crowd. Yet when 10,000 people are dancing and swaying and clapping and one person is not, guess who stands out?
I know this sounds either like I’m feeling sorry for myself or asking you to feel sorry for me. I’m not. It’s simply peeling back another layer of the onion. I may not like it, but I accept it. And besides, I’m bubbly on the inside, so why should I care? To quote my friend Popeye, “I yam what I yam.”
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: