Sometimes things are just funny … yet so telling in a truthful, honest way.
Saturday, Stephanie and I attended the New Hampshire Maple annual meeting.
Yes! It was our first event with people since the start of Covid, and it felt so nice and free!
I enjoyed the connection with my home state. It was comfortable, and it felt eerily familiar, in a way that I couldn’t put my finger on.
You wouldn’t think that two state lines and only three hours would make a difference in the personality style of the people, but it does.
Here is an illustration of what I am talking about.
At the meeting on Saturday, it came time to put together a board of directors for the maple museum. After some coaxing, the hands started raising. Each volunteer was solicited to be president, each one declined, and it became a joke going through the lineup of volunteers. Perhaps it was the subtle way that each person declined the position, humbly and uncomfortable at the mere suggestion of the station. For whatever reason, that made me consider things.
Something hit me while watching this, in a general sense. These people, from New Hampshire, wanted to make a difference, wanted to help the cause, yet held back from being in the lead position.
It seemed more like shyness to being the center of attention, rather than the leading — a feeling that resonates with me as a captain of my own ship.
I have always found it hard to understand this juxtaposition of being in the light, versus being in the shadows, in this life I have created for myself.
It brought up this question as I was sitting there observing: What if this meeting had been happening in the state of New York, with New York-born and bred folks? I think they all would have been fighting for who was going to be the president of the Board! Well, maybe not clamoring for more responsibility in an already busy life, but the tone would have been different for sure. It was a point that I brought up to Stephanie, and she laughed and concurred. In New York, it feels as if there is more ownership and comfort in taking on that center of attention position!
The little nod to my observation felt on point, and it was funny. And when I got up afterward to do my part of the program, an introduction, and speech, I opened up with it to the audience, and they all laughed because it seemed very real — and was funny! An unrecognized truth had suddenly been revealed. And even though I had taken the cloak off and done the recognizing, I was still shaking in my boots as I stood in front of that crowd to say what I needed to say, because I WAS the center of attention, and wanted nothing more than to crawl under the table and hide away from it!
Despite what I may project, to all of you, and my friends and family, it is very hard for me to be upfront and center. My stubborn, Yankee, stay-out-of-the-limelight roots speak to me every day on just this. As hard as I try to shirk their whispers, try to push those old familial puritan voices away and out of my head, they are still there, haunting me in the corners of my mind. “You are to be seen and not heard. You are not worthy of attention.”
I thought it was me, but after yesterday, I see, that the dialogue comes from a slightly different angle than I ever realized.
I do lead. I want to lead. I like to lead. But most days, I want to do it from the protection of the shadows where I can fade into the woodwork when the spotlight gets too close.
As the saying goes, “You can take the girl out of New Hampshire, but you can’t take New Hampshire out of the girl!”
Well, at least I recognize it now, and maybe, the next time I try to hide behind the curtain, I will remember to put on my New York t-shirt, and go on out there, into the light!
Have a great week.