Today’s prompt comes from Carolyn Rubenstein.
Superpower. If you were a superhero, what would your power be?
As a person who may or may not suffer from some self-esteem issues, it’s really had for me to think of what my super power might be. I don’t think, necessarily, that there’s anything particularly extraordinary about me. I’m not heroic in most senses of the word, so thinking about the things that I’m good at, the things that other people look to me for when they need assistance, the one thing that stands out is my ability to remain calm.
I’ve never quite thought of myself as a calm, cool, collected person. My innards are usually in turmoil, and I am constantly fighting off panic. Apparently, though, it’s difficult to discern that on the outside. That is funny to me because I’ve been told that everything I thing I think shows on my face. Perhaps it is because others are so agitated that I don’t notice my own agitation.
My corporate bosses at work have nicknamed me Human Valium because I am so calm and so soft-spoken. When in contentious meetings with program chairs and employees, I’ve been told that I am a calming effect and can keep things on track and on target. When everyone else is getting heated, I’m observing and clarifying and explaining. I’ve had students tell me that I’ve calmed them down–that they walk into the room and the way I talk settles them.
I think my calm comes from periods of intense chaos in my life. Calm was the only way to be. If there was no clam on my part, lord knows where we would have wound up. And it comes from teaching. Teaching middle school. Teaching middle school kids who had chaotic home lives and were in desperate need of some sort of stability. With those kids, I could have yelled and screamed. I could have panicked when they were panicking. But that’s not what they needed from me. They need someone to remain in control so they remained secure. Not people in their provided them with security. Screaming and getting out of control served no purpose because that’s what they were used to. I was more successful when I remained in control of myself.
This is to say that I don’t occasionally lose it because I most certainly do. It happened a few weeks ago because I was frustrated with someone who couldn’t understand the impact of the decisions that she made. After it was over, there were several people who ducked into the office and asked if I was OK because I rarely raise my voice.
In that one area of my life, I suppose that I have gotten really good at hiding emotion. I may be feeling it, but I don’t show it. There are a ton of people who need that from me, and if I can hold myself together for it, I’m more than willing to do it for them. I suppose it just amazes me that I come across so calm when I feel anything but.