Still waters run deep
If I had a penny for every time I heard that phrase growing up…
My school reports are year after year of consistently high academic performance and hopes that I might participate more and develop socially. I was lucky to have a natural inclination and ability for learning: it compensated for and allowed me to “get away with” being socially awkward.
…consistently impressing with her quiet, conscientious approach and with the high standard of all her work.Form Master, Midsummer Term 1989
A first-class report. […] She is very modest about her ability and must make sure she does not under-sell herself at interview next year.Form Master, Midsummer Term 1990
Her consistent performances are exceptional. If she can develop her inter-personal skills more fully she will do very well indeed.Headmaster, Midsummer Term 1991
You see, if I’d not been so capable academically my poor social skills would likely have been seen as more significant. As it was, doing well in my studies meant that my difficulties in other areas were overlooked or glossed over.
I said I was lucky, but the fact is that the highly-structured world of school masked the significant trouble I had navigating an environment like university that relied much more heavily on interactions with other people. My lack of a social network left me isolated and lacking the support I needed, and because I’d not been in any similar situations before I had no idea how to cope.
It left me with deep feelings of failure and shame: everyone had expected me to do well because that is what I had always done. I had tied my own measurement of my worth to that feedback, to those reports of how well I performed.
I let them all down.
I expected to face rejection: after all, I was valued for how well I did and I had just failed. It’s hard to explain how powerful the fear of rejection was, how ashamed I felt of failing.
How worthless I felt.
The echoes of that are still present, still affect me to this day. That was the point at which I shattered into the broken pieces that I work so hard to hold together.
I can mouth the empty words, say that I am worth something, but I don’t believe it. At heart I know I’m a failure: the proof’s there plain to see.
Those still waters, they really do run as deep as they say. And who knows what truly lies beneath that calm surface? For me it’s the wreck of the promise I once showed.