Private vs Public Personae

Even on a small scale, being in the “public eye” has it’s challenges. It doesn’t take much for an average person to listen to something said and believe the information as the truth just because the words were spoken. Then there’s print media, television, and now the internet. How can we really determine the truth and a person’s character from the image they portray when in the public eye?

Reading about the young Olympic gymnast who has been plunged into the limelight so abruptly, I began to ponder how we treat people who are well-known or even “famous”. I think back to my childhood when there were certainly a multitude of stars to swoon over and idolize. But I didn’t have that tendency, need, or desire to idolize people that were performers, or well known. It’s not that I didn’t admire them for their abilities and notoriety, it’s just that I understood what they were doing. They were working. They had acquired or trained for their position of prominence. They ended up getting to a level called FAME.

I was raised in a family of educators who because of their skill in teaching and love of the craft, were recognized everywhere we went — at all times. I was OK with that. The grocery store, every restaurant, event — people recognized my parents. Then, as I grew older, it was my siblings who became known for their skills and public personae.

My family also included music performers — on stage either in the group or in front of the group. I, too am a performer. I trained from an early age to be a musician, then performer. It took years to feel comfortable performing in front of an audience until I realized that I was the ONLY one in the whole room or crowd that could do what I did as well — in my unique style. I was a teacher in a public school for over 10 years and was recognized by 1000s of children. Then I made the final decision to go out on my own and start a business that had begun years earlier.

This was a new step for me — nothing like being in the public eye through education or performing. It was a peculiar place to be. Before, I was recognized with admiration — purely with respect for my career. Now, as an entrepreneurial businesswomen, I was under suspect in the public eye. I didn’t notice the difference right away, but the variance in how I was treated emerged fairly soon in my career as an independent.

I BUILT my business (s) from scratch! Oh there were a few folks along the way that assisted (notably my generous parents), but I started with an entrepreneurial spirit as a teen. I kept with it, designed it, grew it, built it, managed it, promoted it, worked it, funded it. I DID it. No government handouts, nobody sacrificing for, or because of me. I DID it!

What didn’t make sense to me is that I was doing my job and people were suspicious. Even more relevant, was that I had to earn EVERY cent on my own. There was no instacheck in my mailbox, no direct deposit in my bank account. I was accountable for every dollar I spent, every dollar I brought in, every dollar I owed someone else. My public personae changed — not by anything I did, not by the income I earned nor by the business cards I distributed. Geeze, I’ve been essentially the same hard-working, determined, creative, design-my-box person since childhood.

What changed? How OTHER people viewed me. More about this in a future blog . . .

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