Yup, That's me.
Do you remember a time when the people that were famous, on covers of magazines and in the news had accomplished something? Is it at all in your memory banks, a yesteryear when notable people were the ones you looked up, aspired to be and you just knew they were more talented than you, smarter, and better looking. Ok, maybe not better looking. Who could possible be more better looking than YOU?!
I think I remember that time. Please tell me I'm not having a weird wheat gluten, caffeine, sugar and red wine haze. Not again.
Well, I was bemoaning this fact with a friend a few weeks ago. It became a heated conversation about this "NY Times Bestselling author" that bounced onto one of the morning talk shows to promote her latest novel. She's on some prime-time teen soap show that the kids love and she was going on and on about her book and her process and the character inspiration and I was literally waving my hands at the TV along with talking back at it. Yup, that's the picture of well adjusted.
My friend is a writer, a really good one and not just because he's a friend. He's not that great a friend, he's just got mad talent. I have other friends, better friends, that are writers as well and sadly--they are not that talented. He (the talented one) can't get published to save his life and is pouring drinks for a living. I am NOT a writer, but when I pitched a book idea to a big NYC publishing house for a design book they said, " We LOVE that idea, but you need to me more famous for us to publish you." Ugh. More waving of hands and talking loudly.
My writer friend and I both happened to mention this TV appearance of this actress to see if the other one had seen in it. We had and we both had the same hand gesturing, loud, AYKMWT (are you kidding me with this?!) reaction.
Of course the topic went off into all other areas of success, especially in the public eye, for people that just don't seem to deserve it. Where's the talent? Where's the knowledge, the paying your dues? We couldn't find anything to aspire to when it came to these names that were being tossed around during breakfast.
Then it happened. I was a High Point, NC last week for the furniture show. I was speaking at a couple of events and walking around to take in all the great innovation in design as well as meet some of the talented and creative people that are inspiring our industry. I love being there--it's a high for a design geek like me. The high was about to come to a crashing halt. I was walking the floor at one of the showrooms where an event was taking place. As I passed a group of other designers I overheard one of them say, "That's that TV design guy--Him being a designer is like Paris Hilton calling herself an actress." OK. Good to know. Good. To. Know. I shouldn't have been surprised. Actually, I realize that what I do on TV isn't going to make me a design world darling and I'm really OK with that. I have never courted that or would even know how to. I've taken hits before for not following the traditional path to design and being what some professionals have called me while sneering "self taught" and "cheap." All of that has been a knock here and there, but it never winded me. Then why did this? Maybe I should be flattered, right?! OMG, you think I'm as famous and rich as Paris Hilton?! Are you listening publishing world?
So what was it about that simple sentence that made me catch my breath? Why did I feel so hurt? I had all these great comeback lines in my head and I was ready to turn right around and calmly dispense with one of them. OH, I'll show you! Paris Hilton of design my....AND then, I stopped myself. The reason it hurt was that I felt judged. That's it. I wasn't even invited to be a part of the conversation before a complete stranger could just "know me."
All of a sudden, all these thoughts came flooding into my brain like a swell of tanning lotion being squeezed into one of Snooki's precious, petite little hands. I too have judged without knowing.
I vowed to be less judgeey. It's a word.