Uneasy Masks

26 03 2011

Today was a really full day for me.  In the morning I volunteered to attend interviews for recruiting teachers. I must say, the process of interviewing and assessing candidates was quite fascinating. I have been to many interviews in my time as an applicant and too few as the person at the other end of the table. I was part of a panel asking questions. Here are some of the most striking findings for me:

1-Other people get nervous, too!

2-Other people sometimes don’t know the answers to questions.

We had a discussion after the interviews were over, comparing our notes. It was interesting to see the impressions left on each member of the panel by each applicant. There was this one girl about whom everyone agreed:

“There’s something that’s not right about her. She’s too vague and uneasy. There’s something highly unsettling about her. ”

These were the impressions this girl left. As I was hearing this, I was thinking to myself: “They could very well be talking about me. I wonder how many interviews or meetings I have walked out of and left people feeling that way. It sounds really harsh, the things they said, but true of me.”

I always get that. I am seen as too quiet, causing an uneasiness. Cold. Reserved. Formal. Not very friendly. Not an easy person to talk to. I guess these things are true of me. Not to rationalize or justify because I’d really like to water down these qualities if I can. But I believe I give this impression because my inner peace is lacking. Because there are so many wars going on inside that it takes a monumental effort to keep it from spoiling over outwards. In trying to hide all this, and my awareness of it and discomfort and discontent with it, I come across as someone who’s hidden, masked. Yes, I am masked. I am masking my fear, my overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and my irrational guilt. When I am interviewed by someone or meeting people, I truly want to be forthright and say: “Hi! I am as dissatisfied with myself as can be! I am utterly lost and don’t know what I want to do with myself. Also, I’d like to move on to the next life but I seem to be stuck here for a while. One more thing, I am probably the most negative and emotionally/spiritually-aged person you’ll ever meet. Now, can you give me a job? Or I really enjoyed meeting you. How about we get together for a drink and discuss the bleak prospects of this life?” But I don’t think it’s a good idea.  And I am constantly mentally overworked in masking, hiding, suppressing, self-condemning and wishing I was someone else entirely. Because I am someone other than me, people can’t see me, neither can I, really. Would it be a surprise then that I am unable to see other people as the complex beings that they are?   (My complexity is overbearing; it encompasses all else.) So I, more or less, objectify or label them. This one is “too happy.” This one “can’t be real.” That one is “really confident.” That one is “unbelievably hopeful/naive.” I mostly see other people’s strengths (based on my screaming weaknesses: beautiful smiles, being well-dressed, cheerfulness . . . ) and dismiss them as creatures “from a different world.” And I continue, safely, on my well-defined all-too-familiar path of alienation.

Today I got a glimpse from another angle, from a different standpoint. I saw different colors, weaknesses as well as strengths, vulnerabilities. It turns out I am not the only one with weaknesses. Who would have known?!

As I write this, I am having a lightbulb moment, more like a lightbulb wish.  If only one day I could be strong enough to take off (some of) the masks and show more of me, including the weaknesses.”Hey, this is me. I do a,b, and c (yet to be discovered) well. However, I am a complete failure at x,y, and z (insecure obsessive compulsive perfectionist who embodies rigidity and likes to say NO!).”  Bam! Just like that. Plain. Simple. No masks. No acts.

What a load off my shoulders, my mind, and most of all, my masked face.

What do you think? To what degree should we mask/unmask our weaknesses?

 

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