Confessions Of A Former Attention Addict

I’ll admit it — I used to beg and plead for attention when I was younger. In fact, I actually went to some pretty crazy extremes to try to get it. As a former attention addict, I need to get a couple of things straight for those who wonder what goes on inside the mind of someone who’s doing anything and everything to be in the spotlight. If you’ve never been that way, you probably won’t understand what’s behind it or how to deal with someone who acts like that. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Attention seekers want outside validation because we’re lonely. When I was younger, I was the odd girl out. I desperately wanted to fit in and be accepted. Unfortunately, I lacked the social skills needed. Simply put, I didn’t know how to make friends. All I noticed was that the people who had friends always had eyes on them, could always make people laugh, and just had that “spark” that got people to pay attention. I wanted to have friends, so I’d do whatever it took to grab attention.
  2. It’s a cry for help. I’ll be the first one to admit that when I acted out, I was practically begging someone to reach out to me. Instead, all it did was push people away. If you see someone who’s acting out, understand that they often don’t know any better and want someone to be their friend.
  3. That being said, not all of us can be helped. Being lonely, especially for long periods of time, can seriously mess with you. When nobody talks to you or even notices you’re there, you quickly lose sight of social norms. You’ll likely end up with more issues than just being lonely and socially awkward. As much as I hate to say it, a lot of people who clamor for attention end up with serious issues that are often best left to a professional, and because of that, many who suffer from attention dependency are too toxic to keep around. I’ve personally seen others become very aggressive, as well as very controlling, once they actually got the attention they wanted. So, even if you do want to be friend, it’s a matter you should approach with caution.
  4. Attention seekers sometimes do things to make other people uncomfortable on purpose. Though I’m not particularly proud of this, I’ll admit that I used to say things to people that I knew would offend, upset, or disgust them, just so that they would tell me to GTFO. The reason why is because I still viewed it as a victory, because I was just happy to see them even acknowledge me. I often think that this is the reason a lot of guys insult girls when they’re on online dating sites. Similarly, a lot of attention seekers will make others look bad in order to gain attention. Yeah… attention addiction makes you a douchebag.
  5. Most of the time, though, attention seekers don’t know any better. Aside from what an attention seeker may read online, they won’t be able to know much about how to deal with people. If you don’t hang out with people enough, you won’t realize how many unwritten rules there are. If you don’t know the unwritten rules, you can’t play the game. Looking back, I’m actually pretty horrified at how badly I must have behaved. I can’t even totally blame the kids in high school for never inviting me to a party while I was there. Being around me must have been really, really unpleasant.
  6. Most attention seekers grow out of it, thankfully. It took me a long time, and it took me a lot of effort, but I realized how awful my behavior was and worked to improve it. Though I’m still learning, I’ve gotten a lot better about how I deal with people. I also learned that there are other ways of getting human interaction, and that there are better ways to approach people. From what I’ve seen, a lot of the people who had been attention seekers end up growing out of it by the time they’re in their mid-20s.

The funny thing is, once you realize that you don’t have to be the center of attention, life usually ends up being easier for you. Stranger still is the fact that it usually takes a really good wake-up call to make you realize it in the first place. Eventually, things do get better – as long as you work on it.

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a New Jersey based writer and editor with bylines in Mashed, Newsbreak, Good Men Project, YourTango, and many more. She’s also the author of a safe travel guide for LGBTQIA+ people available on Amazon.

She regularly writes on her popular Medium page and posts on TikTok and Instagram @ossianamakescontent.