Demeanor, (n.): outward behavior or bearing (e.g., a quiet, somber demeanor). Synonyms: manner, air, attitude, appearance, look.
The past few weeks have been chock full of failures, frustrations, rejections, and struggles. But you wouldn’t know it if you came over to my house for some coffee and a brief conversation. While nothing drastic has happened I’ve faced unusual emotional ups and downs, and even a bit of insomnia from the stress of a few unique situations. And I don’t know that you would ever find out, if I didn’t choose to be open about them.
You see, I’ve spent most of my adult life choosing to be calm and collected. My demeanor somehow tells everyone that I am not just fine— but that I’m thoughtful, humorous, open-hearted. It says that I don’t really need help. It says I’m content. It might even say that I don’t have much to complain about.
But this is far from the truth. Find me after a day of work or fighting maddening traffic, and I’ll have a hard time saying anything positive to anyone. Catch me in that moment when I’m frustrated beyond consolation that something isn’t perfect– and I’ll be anything but composed or collected.
Usually, for better or for worse, I get the chance to collect myself before I interact with other people. By the time I’m in conversation with a friend over coffee, or working with my next student, I’ve got it all under control again.
I’ve written about how perfectionism has stolen joy in my life, and how pushing those high standards on myself has damaged my relationship with others. Eventually I snap– goodbye, eloquent and thoughtful self, and hello, monster.