I write/mention/talk incessantly about my ‘poker face’ and the ability to not react. It’s something that has grown with me, and when I say grown I really mean it because I have only gotten better at it. Most of the time, it’s a great tact. Nobody knows what I’m thinking; nobody cares. But when it comes to any kind of relationship that involves human interaction, I tend to fall behind. The aforementioned qualities of mine also hold a leash on my emotions and inject me with insane passivity from time to time.
For example, if someone had to surprise me (which people have), I’d be convincing them within the next five minutes to make them believe how much I appreciate their efforts.
Sometimes, I just fall back when it comes to communicating about things that matter to me (read: hurt me). I’ve worked on it over time. I have, believe me.
But it still takes humongous courage, a lot of planning topped with a gigantic amount of anxiety to work my out through my buried feelings and face them, in front of others or not.
About a month ago when I got my board exam marks, I gave the best reaction anyone could imagine. I’ll take a brief, dramatic moment to elucidate my sarcasm:
I opened my laptop, browsed my way to the official website, punched in my login details and watched the page load as seconds filled with unthinkingness passed. As soon as the page opened, I saw my marks, which were all in 90s, looked up at my mom and said, in the ultimate casual tone, “All in 90s, this is good.” And then I shifted the laptop screen towards her.
That was it. A whooping 94.4 percent couldn’t get any reaction out of me. I was happy and satisfied obviously, but I wasn’t the kind of happy that jumped a little, or smiled like she just got her teeth whitened, or cried a river (one of my friends actually did) or just looked happy. There was not a trace of anything, appropriate by society standards, on my face.
Needless to say, the same thing had happened back in 2013, too, during my tenth grade results.
A week ago, a friend and I were casually sitting and talking, when I got an email from my priority college saying I got in. All I did was, “Hey, looks like I got in.” I didn’t even smile. She said congrats and then I said I had to rush home and tell my dad.
Eventually, she asked me if I was actually happy to get the Selection letter or not and needless to say, I had a tough time explaining to her that I was.
It’s not just when I’m happy. Even when I’m sad or hurt, I do the same. I say okay and go about my life. I have never reacted immediately to hurtful news in the way people do i.e. cry, yell, throw things etc. I don’t even cry once I’m out of sight or in alone. The only thing that does make me react is the repetition of the news by the person/people around which eventually leads to a breakdown of frustration and sadness, together.
It’s really not like I’m a hundred present shield that chucks problems away. Because I used to think that of myself but I’ve realised that’s not entirely true. I feel everything that I’m expected to. The intensity of the moment never decreases. I feel as happy or light in the situation, sometimes even more.
I just don’t react or rather I don’t express it facially. One can notice the gaps in my behaviour resulting from my internal highs and lows. They are subtle giveaways, I admit, but they exist.
I could sum up my life in one word, which is, ‘balance’. I am, at all times, subconsciously, striking a balance between the highs and lows of myself and the world around me without meaning to do so. This may include high degrees of rational thinking and not mulling over trivial issues, but it’s what keeps me going. Never too happy, never too sad; I’m actually enacting the Ropewalk act everyday of my existence. It’s a strength I’m starting to accept it.