Friday, September 05, 2008

On the Outside

Outward appearances can be so deceiving. I rode the 54C yesterday (numerous times...don't want to talk about it) and at one point a very well dressed, professional-looking woman sat next to me. She made a joke about the trail mix I was eating. We laughed. To all the world, she appeared to be a white collar professional person. I thought perhaps she was a banker.

Then, a crack addict got on the bus. An actual white-lipped, itchy, toothless crack addict who addressed this woman by name! They were friends. They proceeded to have a long discussion about their regular bar and how this woman was jonesing for a guy who "didn't get his weekends yet." I learned terminology about house arrest, urine screenings, and parole officers from that bus ride! Best case scenario, this woman is a recovering alcoholic who got herself into some trouble with the law.

Which got me thinking. If she could look so well put together, so calm and apparently "normal," while having these raging problems in real life, what do I look like to the world? Take this morning. I might have actually looked like a grown up en route to a profitable business day. In real life, I was struggling to stay alert after reading the Twilight books all night long while at the same time panicking because I don't have any writing assignments right now.

Or when I have to put on a facade of assertiveness to pretend I'm professional when I call a client who hasn't paid me in six months, when really I'm just terrified of confrontation and would almost rather take the loss.

There are so many times when I try to pass for one thing while inside, I am really something quite opposite. (Like when I feign enthusiasm for televised bike racing) How hard do we all work putting on fronts for the world? I try to think about the times when I can put mine down, just ooze out the horrible mess that I am and relish the relief in that raw, naked truth.

Those moments are too few, I think.

1 comment:

Leigh said...

I just found your blog recently, and love it. I went to Pitt for a year and I am also a freelance writer.

I've had to work very hard to feign assertiveness lately, but it's definitely been paying off. I've put my foot down with clients who don't pay on time, expect to get work done for nothing, and who want to pay bottom of the barrel prices. I haven't had one person argue with me yet; I've simply started saying, "these are my rates, this is when your payment is due, and this is what's included" and by some miracle, they're paying!