Learning To Be Comfortable With Visibility

By Luis H. Garay

I remember the first theatre production I was ever a part of. It was elementary school, maybe 4th or 5th grade, and the production was “The Wizard of Oz”. You know the one, the one about a little girl, transported to Oz, who finds three friends, and traverses the unknown in search of a way back home. For this production, I was working backstage (i.e. the stage crew) and I remember loving every minute of it. From finding an actress for her entrance to making sure the death of the witch went without a hitch, I loved every moment being backstage.

In high school I found myself back in the theatre and backstage once again. I loved handling the fly system or working the spotlights. In college, I kept backstage but found myself running shows via stage management roles. When I actually had to take an acting class, I felt queasy. I would be in front of people performing, leaving my comfy perch of the backstage.

I tell both brief stories to illustrate how being in the spotlight is not my thing. I prefer working behind the scenes. I like managing the machine or working within the machine but never being the face of it.

Since I have started my role here at SLU, I have heard more than once “Oh, I have heard that you were _____” or “I have heard amazing things about you”. Staff members in other offices have approached me to collaborate on projects or be a part of new projects. I have to remind myself that being new to a university makes some curious or want to get to know you. Moreover, being a part of an entirely new staff in an office which is HIGHLY collaborative it really should be no surprise that more people know about me than I know about them.

I have to also remind myself that being in the spotlight can be a good thing. Being visible can be full of opportunities. For me, being visible in having people wanting to meet me, saying very nice compliments, or wanting me to a part of new projects makes me feel welcomed, valued, and having a voice. Is it scary? Yes. It is nerve-wrecking? Double yes. Do I fear I will mess something up along the way? You betcha! But when I remind myself of the work I do and the meaningful impact my students may experience because of my involvement via my visibility than this spotlight on me becomes a wee bit less scary.

How do you handle visbility or being in the spotlight? Any tips you would like to share? Comment below or tweet me at @LuisHGaray. As always, thanks for reading!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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