Monday Musings: Suit of Armor

One of the books I am reading – well, actually listening to, since I have borrowed the audio version from the library – is Hilary Clinton’s What Happened. I am finding it quite interesting. There was one line that resonated with me almost immediately. It’s early in the book, when she is talking about getting ready to give her concession speech and then go to talk to her campaign staff before they pack up and go home. She talked about putting on her “game face”, so to speak, and burying her own feelings while in more public settings. Mrs. Clinton wrote:

“I wear my composure like a suit of armor, for better or for worse.”

Wow. That one short sentence hit me like a sledgehammer between the eyes. She pretty much summed me up, and, I think, also many others. That suit of armor has been there for me for so many years, I almost forget sometimes that I’ve put it on.

I was never one of the popular kids. I was geeky and nerdy long before any of that was even remotely cool. I wasn’t interested in the stuff most other kids were, and as I got older, I wasn’t into “girl” stuff, either. Sure, I had some of the same celebrity crushes, but for the most part, I wasn’t anywhere near the cool kids. I liked comic books (then considered boy stuff). I read science fiction and fantasy, along with all the animal stories in the library. I got laughed at and teased, and shut out of most groups. I learned early on that showing any sort of reaction – anger, lashing out, and god forbid, tears – just made it worse. I learned to put on the mask of “I Don’t Care” and became a master of not reacting. The armor was building. It got stronger as I grew older. People thought I was odd because I rarely reacted to things that were upsetting. “Does she ever cry?” Sure. Just not where you can see.

Don’t react.

Don’t show that it bothers you.

You need to be the strong one.

And, for the love of everything, never let them see you cry.

But it’s a two-sided coin, isn’t it? Sure, you’re the tough one. The strong one they can call when things get rough, and no one else wants to deal with it. But you’re not calm. Or capable. Or good in a crisis. Or even stoic. No, you’re cold. Unfeeling. Unapproachable. Scary. A bitch. And still the weird one that nobody really gets. You read all that strange sci-fi stuff. You don’t like the current fads in TV or music. People around you don’t get it, and don’t seem to want to try. But it’s okay, because it doesn’t bother you.

I wear my composure like a suit of armor, for better or for worse.”

Me, too, Hilary. Me, too.

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