Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Who, Me?

After a board meeting tonight at my temple, a woman pulled me aside to ask me a question about an issue she's dealing with. "I'm coming to you because you're always so calm and cool-headed," she said. It took everything I have not to swivel my head around 270 degrees to make sure she wasn't talking to someone else. (Not that I'm able to swivel my head 270 degrees, mind you. But it would be cool, wouldn't it?)

I would say that I can't think of a single other thing that someone could say about me that would be *less* true...except no more than three minutes later another woman came over and said, "I really appreciated your comments about XYZ situation earlier. You're a great addition to our board because you're not afraid to state your opinion, and you don't back down when you're challenged."

And THAT, my friends, is the official winner in the There Is Nothing You Could Say About Me That Would Be Less True contest.

Is it just that people see what they want to see? At 43, I am easily one of the youngest members of the board, and it's clear that the older folk definitely tend to think of me as energetic and full of new ideas. I guess--if you squint your eyes tight and tilt your head sideways--that could translate into me seeming calm and cool-headed. I guess. Maybe. So long as you never watch me deal with my kids when they're being difficult. Or so long as you never watch me deal with my kids even when they're NOT being difficult, but I'm on my last nerve. Which is about 80 percent of the time.

But that other stuff? If there's one thing that has always, always, ALWAYS defined me, it is a pure and unadulterated hatred of confrontation. I don't back down when challenged? WTF? I'm queen of "Well, I can see your point...but on the other hand, I can see how...and yet, on the other hand, I think that...but on the other hand..." There are OCTOPI that don't have as many "other hand"s as I do when I'm trying to backpedal my way out of a confrontation.

I guess it doesn't really matter how you act, or what you really are inside. Someone's always going to try to interpret you, and half the time, they're going to get it dead wrong. I'd fret about it more, but really, there are way worse things I could be called than calm, cool-headed, and able to stand up for what I believe in. Like harried, irritable, and terrified of confrontation. In other words, me.


Green said...

Sometimes I'll say something like, "I'm having a hard time understanding how you came to that conclusion, could you explain the logic behind it?" when I really mean "Dude, you're so full of shit."

But if everyone else believes the speaker is full of shit, they'll get what you meant, rather than what you actually said, and that's what they're talking about and thanking you for.

kristen said...

I totally get this. It is funny to think about how others perceive us. Like you, I hate confrontation and (to my eyes) I am wimpy and wishy washy about dealing with the hard stuff, and yet, it never fails that someone will pop up and say, "You are so level-headed and calm."

Maybe that's code for "I'm so glad you aren't going to make a fuss about this little mess..."

po said...

Dude, I am ROLLING on the floor here :D!

But honestly, I think you do project a very solid, calm, straight-shootin' persona. To people who don't know you very well ;-).

I will never forget the time someone (who knew me for a couple of years) told me that I was one of the most together people she'd every met. HAH! Some of us are just good actors :).

Mary said...

I frequently hear, at work, how calm I am, and how much people appreciate that. Most days, I feel like a volcano that's about to blow and destroy half the world. It amuses me very much to hear someone say how calm I am. I guess it just means I'm a better actress than I'd ever guessed.