My band just played a gig at a high-profile room in Atlanta. I was very excited about the exposure. But me being me, I also started to freak out a little.
I wanted to look good, both as a band and as an individual. I wanted people to look at me and like what they saw. At the same time, I did not want to lose myself in an ego trip.
What is the difference, I wondered, between sharing and showing off?
If you think about it in child terms, sharing is when you bring something and everyone gets a little. Showing off is when you have something to show and nobody gets it.
That analogy works pretty well for creative and performing endeavors. Have you ever been to a performance and someone was going crazy on stage, but nobody in the audience “got it?” The performer was showing off.
Then there are the concerts where it seems like everyone is taking what they need from the performance. The performers are presenting their stuff, and there’s something for each audience member to take away, maybe the groove, maybe the vibe, maybe the meaning of the lyrics. That’s sharing.
Have you ever read a book that you knew must be written by a great author, because it’s really complicated and you don’t understand it at all? I’d say the odds are you’re not stupid. The author is showing off.
Then there are the books where the author tells you a story and you say, “Oh, my God, that’s my story!” Or you feel like it could have happened to you, even though it didn’t. That’s the author, sharing their story.
Even if you’re not a performer or a creator, you can still make a distinction. Have you ever been talking to someone about something you’re proud of? Well, are you sharing or showing off?
If I’m talking and the other person seems to be listening patiently, but doesn’t have any investment in my story, I might just be showing off. Is this someone that would care about what I’m saying? Is there a way in for them, so that they can relate to it?
How can I share my story with them and not show off? If I won a competition, can I talk about my feelings of joy instead of how awesome everyone now thinks I am? That would be something the other person can share.
I’m trying to share with you now. Am I just showing off my blogging skills? I’m hoping there’s something in this post you can relate to…