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The Japanese have two terms, honne and tatemae. Tatemae is the way we behave in public, whereas Honne is the contrasting way one truly feels. My worklife is tatemae, so much so that when I was gone for vacation last week, I almost forgot how to be the fake person I am at my desk.

For example, I got a new set of bookends that are these beautiful dyed geodes and I actually brought them around to show everyone (my nemesis is on vacation at the moment, so no awkwardness there). It was only about halfway through the conversation of showing them off that I realized I was being my genuine self, and people were looking at me weird.

Then the fear set in. I’ve tipped my hand, I worried. They got a taste of the precious soul I keep hidden because these folks aren’t really my friends. They’ve done things to hurt me in the past, even the most simple things about me are held against me. After I’d come to this realization, the Tatemae set back in and I was back to my usual sullen, quiet self. It’s safer, but sadder this way. But it’s how I survive