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What is so bad about seeking attention?

What is so bad about seeking attention?

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  • Seeking attention is a completely normal part of the human experience. So why do we demonize it so much?
Spotlight seeking attention header image unsplash nolisoliph

I like attention. Which is apparently, not a very good thing to most people. When I was a kid, I loved putting on big shows, wearing fancy outfits and talking to everyone about everything and nothing. In Filipino, I was the “bibo kid.” I mean, I still am, but it was also something I was severely bullied for. 

My nonchalant face and the body language just screamed “center of attention”

Cue the teen angst years and I was very into the philosophy of “I’m not like other girls.” I detested pink, frills, feathers, and sparkles (which I now absolutely adore) and people saw right through it as attention-seeking. 

As a culture, we’re very dismissive of people who like seeking attention. When someone tries to play themselves up, people usually say “Ay KSP ‘yan” or try to paint them in a negative light. 

But honestly, what’s so bad about seeking attention? 

Breaking down “attention”

Not all attention-seeking is made equal. There are quite a few different types of attention-seeking behavior that range from the simply annoying to the absurd. I’d like to preface this by saying there are attention-seeking disorders, but I’m just sticking to the regular “hello, please notice me” type of attention-seeking versus the more provocative “I’m going to burn this building down” type of attention-seeking (which is honestly another article in itself). 

Everyone wants to stand out like this suspiciously green leaf on top of dried orange and brown leaves. Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Attention is defined as “notice taken of someone or something; the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important.” If we take that into consideration, it’s basically someone who wants to be seen as someone worth seeing. 

Which is basically everyone. 

I’d argue that attention is an intangible human need. Infants cry when they want something and it signifies that a basic need is not being met. Since we’re not babies, we can’t literally cry out for attention anymore (thanks, societal norms), so we have to resort to more cunning methods to garner attention. And to me, that’s completely normal. 

Being honest with our wants and needs

Acknowledging the fact that I wanted attention was a really big step forward for me. More than the getting attention part, I put more importance on how I was honest with myself and what I wanted and needed from other people. I once attended an anxiety-themed Clubhouse room and proudly proclaimed “I like attention” and instead of being met with jeers, the moderator actually commended me on my honesty. 

My relationship with attention is what I want more people to have with their needs. Be loud, proud, and open about what you want from life. Whether it’s in a romantic relationship, friendship, office or family setting, being unapologetically transparent with what you want and need from that specific person or group of people is something we need to learn to do to grow. 

What’s important is that you make peace with what you want from others and ask for it.

Attention is honestly just the very tip of the iceberg.

There’s a trendy term that’s been floating around the Internet lately that relates to this, and it’s manifesting. Manifesting is when people try to focus their energies into achieving a certain goal. It’s being open and honest with the universe with what you want to bring you closer to it. 

Manifesting is great, don’t get me wrong, but you also have to manifest out loud. 

Being honest with yourself and with other people will make you happier. In my case, when I told people that I liked attention (which still sounds very cringey to me), they gave it. I felt seen, heard, and validated. But again, that’s not what’s truly important. 

Freedom and acceptance look like many things. They also tend to look like this guy sometimes. Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

What’s important is that you make peace with what you want from others and ask for it. And honestly, belittling people who are honest with what they want is so passé. We’re in the middle of a pan de coco—because I refuse to write out the “p” word—and my philosophy is to find joys (both little and big) wherever you can and milk it for all its worth. 

There’s joy in growth and honesty. 

And when you’re ready to own up to what you want and need, I’ll be waiting right here to celebrate with you.

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