Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Cool, calm and terrified

It's odd how my inner perception of myself can be so different from the outer reality and how other people see me.

People tell me I'm well-organised, always on top of things, reliable, efficient etc. And I know this is true - I get the car serviced, mow the lawns, pay the bills, keep the food cupboards well-stocked, and so on.

But I feel like I'm totally scatterbrained, barely in control of anything, scrabbling to keep my life in order, and that if I don't keep a very close eye on things, total chaos will break out at any moment.

I think I'm working on the basis that it's only good luck that keeps everything so well organised, and that a streak of bad luck could send everything haywire. The implausibility of a run of good luck lasting some five decades fails to register.

Likewise, people see me as cool, calm and collected, able to deal with any minor crisis without panicking and losing my head. But inside I'm probably doing exactly that and wondering how the hell I'm going to sort things out. I may look calm, when actually I'm just sitting tight and hoping the crisis will magically pass by.

Then again, I'm seen as polite, courteous, never flying off the handle, never pouring abuse at anyone. In private however I can be shamelessly rude and vicious about that gormless receptionist I just spoke to, or that grumpy old bigot down the road.

I don't see myself as especially polite or courteous. I often think it's touch and go whether I let rip at someone or hold my tongue and move on.

I'm good at holding my tongue. It hides my scattiness.

20 comments:

Rummuser said...

I am often told that I am a good conversationalist. I presume that it means that I am polite and courteous and don't fly off my handle! I have been known to be all three as well! I am usually cool and calm and very rarely terrified. I don't find myself in situations where I can be terrified!

Bijoux said...

Has anyone ever told you that you worry too much??

Nick said...

Ramana: I envy you never being in any possibly terrifying situation! I do get the impression you're usually cool and calm.

Bijoux: Jenny says that all the time. Maybe one day I'll decide I just can't be bothered with worrying any more....

Ursula said...

As the philosopher says: Know thyself. However, I do chime with Bijoux. You worry too much, Nick. When I say "too much" I don't even know what you worry about.

Do not worry what other people think. If you you and they agree on getting "the car serviced, mow the lawn, pay the bills, keep the food cupboards well-stocked" is the pinnacle of a life well lived you most certainly have never faced a challenge. Next? How to stack a dishwasher.

Oh, Nick.

U

PS If there is any comfort in being affirmed of one's view of oneself by someone else's: I don't see you as "cool, calm and collected".

Nick said...

Ursula: My point is that how others see me is rather different from how I see myself. Whether I worry about what they're thinking is another matter altogether.

I'm not saying those things are the pinnacle of my life, only that they show my life is a lot more organised than I think it is. I've certainly faced plenty of challenges, but that's also another subject entirely.

Interesting that you don't see me as cool, calm and collected. In that case we're miraculously of one mind!

Secret Agent Woman said...

Does it really matter if people see you as calmer or more together than you feel? I think most of us at least try to mask any anxiety or scatterbrain-ness we might feel on the inside. No sense in running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Wisewebwoman said...

I retesting list. You sound like the kind of guy I've always admired, quietly taking care of all the Joe jobs. I do believe anxiety and uncertainty stalk many of us even though track records prove us fools.

XO
WWW

Dave Martin said...

I wonder how many people really are all they seem to be on the surface.
Everyone has issues, and it's up to the individual how much they choose to reveal of their true selves.
I doubt many lay themselves completely open to anyone but a few close and trusted people, so it's unlikely that casual contacts will perceive you in the same way that you do yourself.
The only question is, do you really care?

Nick said...

Agent: No, it doesn't really matter. In fact it's an obvious advantage if I'm being interviewed or attending a work meeting or whatever. Certainly running around like a headless chicken wouldn't get me very far!

www: I do indeed quietly take care of many domestic jobs. And yes, I'm sure many people are hiding their own feelings of anxiety, panic, scattiness etc.

Nick said...

Dave: I don't really care how others perceive me unless it's in a very destructive way. But it's interesting how different their image can be compared to how I actually see myself. I think quite often we unconsciously modify our outward behaviour without even realising we're doing it.

CheerfulMonk said...

You remind me of a boss I had once. He was internationally known and respected in accelerator physics, but when I told him I was overwhelmed by all I didn't know and was going to study more physics, he said it wouldn't help. There would always be so much that you didn't know. He felt like a fraud and was always worried that someone would find him out. Hmm. I decided to learn a lesson from him and not worry about the physics, I would work on my self esteem and self acceptance, and enjoy my job while I had it. It was a good decision and I still think fondly of that period of my life.

kylie said...

Do you ever get self conscious about all the naval gazing you do on your blog?

Nick said...

Jean: Ah, impostor syndrome. I'm well acquainted with that! I bet most of those high-fliers have the same feelings, that they're nothing like as brilliant as they're reputed to be. And yes, the thing to deal with isn't the lack of knowledge but the lack of self-esteem.

Nick said...

Kylie: I do, which is why I try to keep it to a minimum. But sometimes I just get the urge to try and explain my psychological quirks. Unfortunately most people misunderstand me, so I may as well not bother!

Ursula said...

Kylie's comment made me laugh out loud. Don't take it to heart, Nick; Kylie likes you, as do I - navel fluff and all.

I have been pondering on your response to her. And, of course, you are right: We all would love our "psychological quirks" to be "understood". Yet, it's impossible. It's a fool's errant. An optimistic fool at that.

I believe the desire to explain ourselves to be bred in the bone. Because, essentially, we are on our own. How many of us do understand ourselves, never mind dive to get to the bottom of another's self? Let that not dishearten you, Nick. We are all on the same train even if one compartment goes to Timbuktu and the other to god knows where.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: I know she does. I had a very nice meal with her in Sydney a few years back.

You're right, it's a fool's errand trying to explain yourself to others. Why do I bother? Sheer stubbornness I suppose.

Not sure we're all on the same train. We may all set off on the same train but the carriages seem to end up in very different places.

kylie said...

Ursula,
We went to a Turkish restaurant with very low seating so long legs were folded up quite tightly. It was also a banquet style meal. I was sitting right next to Nick and every time I reached for something from the table I would bump his knee and every time he pretended like he didnt even notice.

It will go down in my memory as one of the stranger moments of life

Nick said...

Kylie: I don't even remember the knee-bumping! Are you sure you weren't bumping the table? All I remember is very enjoyable company - you and Liam and Helen - and a delicious meal.

I'm just looking at the photo. Your knees are very close to the table....

helen devries said...

I am polite, but I do notice that there are people who don`t like to hear a point of view which is not their own however politely expressed.
So I have an unpleasant reputation in some quarters...

Nick said...

Helen: Very true. Some people hate to hear opposing views, however politely, reasonably or passionately expressed. Once I've sussed them out, I just avoid talking to them. Or avoid their company altogether. It's too frustrating.