Most people, I suspect, wear masks at various points in their lives. I’m not talking about physical masks in the halloween or fancy dress sense, but the pretence involved when someone masks their true feelings or, more fundamentally, their true character.
Sometimes these masks slip to reveal the reality beneath. The Latin phrase in vino veritas neatly captures the truth-releasing potential of alcohol, but illness, stress and fatigue can all have the same effect from what I’ve seen.
I’ve witnessed such a slip recently. It’s not the first time I’ve seen the reality of a person’s character emerge from beneath a veneer of friendliness of civility. For me the revelation carries an element of shock because the pretence was an effective one. There is also a feeling of disappointment if, like me, you tend to take people at face value and assume that they share your ‘what you see is what you get’ approach to others.
Faced with such a situation, I think the best response is to channel whatever shock and disappointment there might be into a feeling of relief. At least now you know what the person really thinks of you and what they are really like so that, in future interactions, you know exactly who and what you’re dealing with. Forewarned is forearmed, after all.
It’s hard to see the person in the same light again because you know that, however well the top coat is repaired, there is something unpleasant lurking just under the surface. I much prefer it when someone makes their true character clear from the outset. There’s an honesty in this approach that I can respect and it also reminds me that openness is the better (and easier) policy in the long run.