WE ALL WEAR MASKS


I had a colleague who told me she was warned by another (who had never met me) to be careful of me because “white people will smile and be nice but then they will turn on you”.  I had invited this out-of-town co-worker to spend time at my house and to attend church with me.  She was a long, long way from home and was going to be in a motel for a week with her little two year old son.  I wanted her child to have room to play and run so he would not be shut up in a motel room all week long.  I was trying to be nice and hospitable.  My intention was to help her feel welcome and not so alone in a strange town.  Would I turn on her?   I hardly knew her but had no reason to think we would not get along well and have a congenial time together.  We had a lot in common and worked for the same company.  We were part of the same team.  I am generally nice to people who are nice to me.  I am nice to people sometimes even when they are not nice to me.  I’m not always nice and sure I do “turn on people” when something happens that I respond to in a negative manner.  I’m not a robot.  I do react and respond to circumstances and when the situation changes then I, too change.  I wonder what we are supposed to do.  I do smile and am nice to people.  I call it manners.  Sometimes it is fake for sure because I don’t feel well or am worried about something.  I “turn on people” I suppose when I have to set boundaries, say “no”, or take some other action I deem necessary.  I “turned” on three people this week I am otherwise nice to.  One was trying to pull me into a gossip session and negative office politics.  The other two were trying to delegate their own responsibilities to me and I had to let them know I was not doing their job.  I was as polite as I could be in the situation and will continue being nice to these three people.  I will continue to smile when I see them and say “good morning” like I always do.   There are other people at work I simply don’t like for personal reasons.  They grate on my nerves, I think they are incompetent, or I just don’t mesh well with their personalities.  Am I supposed to frown and say “I really don’t like you” every time I see them?  I don’t tell people what I think most of the time although it’s not always negative.  I use common courtesy and the manners I was taught whether I like it or not.  I don’t tell people their clothes are slutty, their make-up is clownish, and their breath stinks.  Am I being fake? Sure, I guess I am.  Don’t we all have different faces we show in different circumstances?  I have  different faces for different situations.  I try to respect speakers in boring meetings by making eye contact, listening, and taking notes.  I see people texting, dozing off, or looking out the window.  I think it’s rude to act like that in a meeting even if it is boring.  Am I being fake?  I suppose I am.  I make polite small talk when necessary at social gatherings when I’d much rather be at home on my sofa reading a book.  Am I being fake?  Maybe I am.  On the other hand, all of these faces are mine.  I do have many faces because I am a multifaceted individual.  I am a complicated human with many sides to my personality.  I can’t imagine what would happen if my face showed what I was really thinking in some situations!  I think it would be weird if I was exactly the same in every single situation.  I truly don’t get it.

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