The Question That Excites and Terrifies Me in Equal Measure

There’s a  question  that excites and terrifies me in equal measure  and it is:

“Do you want to know what [INSERT ANY PERSON IN THE WORLD’S NAME HERE] said  about you?”

This happened to me last week and so of course I started nodding emphatically as I was chomping at the bit for the wonderful/horrible news that was about to be delivered.  It’s surely good that my first instinct was that it was something positive; God knows there have been times in my life when I would have assumed the opposite.

My friend continued,  “I saw [person who I vaguely knew a decade and a half ago and never liked all that much] and mentioned your name. She said, ‘God, Anna had the biggest (I was certain she was going to say boobs, btw) ego I’ve ever encountered.'”

I was pretty stunned, mostly because I wasn’t really offended.


It actually made me respect the woman for the first time because it was so on-the-nose and a part of me, I have to admit, was flattered (I  usually can’t remember what I wrote yesterday but for some reason I remember that I have a line in Party Girl where the protagonist says, I love to be the most anything, even if it’s something bad; let’s just say that line came from a personal place.)

And see, I knew the woman who said this in an era when I was working at a magazine where I was in way over my head in terms of experience. And I handled that the way I always handled situations when I was insecure back then: I masked my feelings of fear and inferiority with bravado—the proverbial piece of crap in the center of the universe. I acted like I knew everything, far more than the people who were correcting me or  offering me constructive criticism. If my boss told me I did  something wrong, I tended to inform him that he should stop being so mean to me. I’d never learned to respect authority—my feeling was always “Give me a reason to respect you and I will (maybe)”—and I had so little respect for the main authority figure in my life (my dad) that I felt by behaving this way, I was being true to myself. Turns out all I was actually doing was setting myself up to be fired—which I was from that job and several others that followed.

So, yeah. This woman was right; I did have a massive ego. Of course I didn’t know then  that a massive ego can only come from a massive inferiority complex (hey hey you presidential candidate, you). When  I feel insecure now, I have the same instinctive response—to behave as if the opposite is true. I just have a lot fewer times I feel that way. And every now and then I am actually able to say the truth, which is that I feel  threatened/confused/scared/fill in the blank.

It doesn’t make me the most anything but  it’s about time I let that go.

(Photo taken below the Triana Bridge in Sevilla, which happens to be my favorite place on earth.)

One thought on “The Question That Excites and Terrifies Me in Equal Measure

  1. Anthony Scala says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us!
    I always have that moment of anxiety when this comes up
    In the past , I wanted everyone to like me.
    I am trying to manage that more effectively and not be so concerned about it
    But I could feel being on the edge of my seat, listening to that quote

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