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Yesterday, while waiting for one of my professor's office hours, I got into a conversation with a girl--an acquaintance of mine. Somehow, it got onto the topic of her impression of me when she first met me in the seminar that we attend together. She said that I seemed "mean" or "scary", or like a "bad-ass" (this last one is on the count of my motorcycle helmet, heh). This isn't the first time that I've gotten this kind of impression from other people--and while I'm always a bit surprised (although these days, it's getting less and less surprising), I have come to accept that strangers sometimes see me as intimidating and possibly "unfriendly". I don't feel the need to speak all the time, but when I do, I'm fairly well-spoken and well-informed. I tend to have a serious face on when I'm just sitting by myself or engaged in classroom activities. I can also be abrasive, brutally honest, and sarcastic.

 

On the flip side, I feel like that impression of me is largely incorrect. I know I'm an intelligent person, so I don't feel the need to exert that on everyone all the time like some people do, and I generally reserve the high-brow intellectualism for the classroom. As my good friends know, I'm extremely laid-back and goofy, like to make bad jokes, play video games, rock out, act dumb. I'm also a very caring and loyal friend.

 

I suppose what everyone else is seeing is my "business face"...My field is academic in nature, and I don't feel the need to mince words or "play nice". This is a trait I believe I inherited from my mother, and it has gotten me in trouble once before--it's hard for me to deal with outright incompetence for extended periods of time, and I very seldom waste my time associating with people that I don't like. That being said, there are very few people in this world that I flat-out don't like!

 

I don't see this as a duality, I guess--both of these sides make up a congruous whole. It's not black and white, I feel capable of making jokes with academic colleagues as well as engaging them in serious discussion. And yet, when I hear about how one person thinks I'm stuck-up, or another person thinks I'm mean, it's difficult to reconcile their opinion of me with how I think of myself (even if they ARE only acquaintances). I feel misunderstood--some people just don't get sarcasm, or they only see the "business face", and they don't get to see the laid-back, chill side that sort of mitigates the abrasiveness.

 

I'm not really complaining, nor am I condoning being a jerk just because it's "who you are". Nor am I looking for advice for how I can "change" myself. I do like "who" I am. I just wanted to see if anyone else has the same experience. Do you feel like people perceiving you in this way is more harmful than helpful? Do you ever see it as a good thing, as something that "weeds out" people that you wouldn't be interested in being friends with, or something that limits you, socially or professionally?

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i got this all the time in school. i still get it.

"mean, scary, and bad-ass' lol its funny how they used the same words.

Basically i think its taken from your outward appearance that you may not be aware of. You are probably serious and focused, possibly introverted. And for happy go lucky extroverts its obvious that you arent giving off the warm and inviting vibes that social butterflies often do.

and it could be how you raised. my dad was an introverted antisocial who didnt display affection, i think i had that imprinted on me.

So they classify you as: mean, scary, and hardcore or bad-ass.

 

over time i have just accepted that thats who i am, and cannot change it, nor want to.

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i got this all the time in school. i still get it.

"mean, scary, and bad-ass' lol its funny how they used the same words.

Basically i think its taken from your outward appearance that you may not be aware of. You are probably serious and focused, possibly introverted. And for happy go lucky extroverts its obvious that you arent giving off the warm and inviting vibes that social butterflies often do.

and it could be how you raised. my dad was an introverted antisocial who didnt display affection, i think i had that imprinted on me.

So they classify you as: mean, scary, and hardcore or bad-ass.

 

over time i have just accepted that thats who i am, and cannot change it, nor want to.

 

when i first saw you post on here, i thought you were pretty bad ass, tbh. lol i think its because you seem to have a strong personality.

 

 

i too used to be like this and got this comment from almost everyone (unless they know me very personally) in highschool. i've been trying to compensate for it, but at the end of the day, i feel fake. it's just not me. i also find that with my new compensating attitude, i do attract a lot more subpar people. and a lot of my old friends tell me that the reason they love me in the first place is because of my attitude and unapologetic personality.

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another thing too is that if you are introvert you have a shell, you may want the company of others and even want to make a good deal of friends but for whatever reason feel like you are 'missing' something or it just isnt adding up.

 

Few people 'get' intense individuals, few people get past the serious and focused side of you. But the ones that do likely can handle your personality.

 

My psychologist described it like... i am not interested in the things that most 21 year olds are, i dont talk or think the way they do, and in that way its extremely difficult to connect or empathize with them and them with me. For these reasons i dont have but one friend in my age range. The rest are considerably older.

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I find this post to be refreshing because so many of the new threads seem to deal with relationships. It makes me start to wonder: if this is the major problem everybody else is having, why can't I be so blessed to have that be my major issue as well?

 

For me, people often see me as a "nice girl" or an "emotionless b****" (or so I am told). Basically what it seems to come down to is that I am a gentle and empathetic person but I am also very logical. At least.. I try to be. I see value in trying to control your temper and discuss disagreements as level headed and as rationally as possible. I also am not so easily going to be taken up by fits of passion over events that really don't deserve such a response.

 

I think part of it is also that as a woman, people sometimes expect a certain stereotype (overly emotional, ditsy etc) and so when they come accross a woman who is articulate and maybe with a touch of intellectual zing they portray her as being a hard ass. If you don't fit the bill of the coy maiden waiting to be swept up by her prince charming people might perceive you as overly aggressive or even desperate.

 

Another possible thing to note.. if you give off an intellectual air people sometimes perceive that as meaning somebody is stuck up. Don't ask me why but it does seem to be the case.

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Yeah, I have always tended to connect with older people and adults, even as a child. I really don't mind partying or cutting loose, it's just not an every day (or every week, for that matter) type of thing for me. Not that I don't like to hang out and have fun...just that it always seems like no one has time to hang out, no one wants to do anything, or I'm just busy.

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to be honest i did struggle with it alot last year, i had a spell of depression after i recognized what it was and why. its like my whole life i was trying to have something that wasnt possible for me.

Coming to terms with that was hard.

But i saw that perhaps i wanted those things because they were considered 'normal' and that i thought thats how i was supposed to be. Once again it took a short while to recognize that its okay to not fit in with the general populace.

It takes alot to know and accept that dimension because.... you wanted it for so long. but sometimes you have to accept that you will never be a sheep. (and i dont think there is anything wrong with sheep btw)

 

But for your age you are a rarity, instead of trying to fight that you should use it to find more people who are like you. because something tells me that you wouldnt be happy with superficial or vain people either. So it works both ways.

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Suzy, I see what you mean. I think BellaDonna has a quote in her sig that says something to the effect of "People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute." I realize that by being a young woman who is intelligent and strong-minded means that many people in our society will label me a "b****" outright. It also makes it more difficult to date--or has, in the past. I notice that the types I attract tend to be the dominant, intellectual types who find it hard to understand my "goofy" side, and with whom I feel like I can never relax, or the "goofy/nerdy type", who I can be relaxed with but can very seldom have a good conversation with.

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I used to get that all the time when i was younger and it always surprised me. I wasn't trying to give off that vibe. I didn't smile as much then and it ended up making my first impressions with people one that i was stand offish, not very friendly and that i might bite their head off if i speak.

 

now is a different story. I smile all the time. When i was younger i got so ticked off at strangers saying "hey you should smile" and i thought to myself do people really go around smiling like idiots when there was no reason to smile? But now i realize that when i feel content my smile just comes naturally when i see people and sometimes just walking down the street i have kind of a half smile even then.

 

It is how we feel internally that can often be radiated from our faces even when we are unaware of it.

 

For what its worth, based on your posts only and you in your avatar (if that is you) you dont look or seem mean at all. You look very pleasant and have always given very nice, pleasant advice to people here that i have read - not fluffy nonsense - you can get real, but you are always pleasant overall.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by EQUESTRIANDYNAMO

Few people 'get' intense individuals, few people get past the serious and focused side of you. But the ones that do likely can handle your personality.

 

 

This is VERY true. I was and likely still am extremely intense, and i still get misunderstood by some people sometmies, but i no longer get misconstrued as being 'hard' or unfriendly.

__________________

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Growing up I had to take a lot of crap at home, so I was hyper-vigilant against taking any with my peers. I overreacted often and sometimes physically. They considered me a "hardass" and my friends were mostly boys. At 18 in college I chose to become the sweet, pacifist, go-with-the-flow woman before you today.

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alot of people shy away from directness too. jaded's post reminded me of that.

straightforward people make sugarcoaters and those who were handled with kid gloves nervous. thus resulting in the b*** name also.

when really its not that, its just the cold hard truth.

 

i get into trouble alot on here because i am wayy too blunt. surprise surprise.

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As a kid, I was really withdrawn, depressed, self-isolated. That is, until my senior year of HS. I found that I COULD be myself, and that there actually were people out there who appreciated sarcasm, honesty, and my sense of humor. Since then, I've been "me". However, I am about to graduate college and have not found many more "good" friends. Maybe that is just because of the "in and out" nature of college classes. Some of the good friends I have made have graduated and moved away. I do sometimes wonder if, maybe, I portrayed more of a "party girl" front, I'd get more invites and more acquaintances...but what good is that, really? I know it's no good for the long term, but sometimes it is fun to play with the "sheep".

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It's funny tho - i am probably way more direct now than i was at 21 but was considered more 'mean' then. I think our body language and how much we smile also gives people impressions. I know this is pretty accurate since on this site when i "speak", people can't 'see' me smile and they can't view my body language so i am often mistaken for a 'meanie'. But in real life it would be RARE for someone to call me mean even tho my communication style is EXACTLY the same as it is here on this forum - it is just missing the visuals here that go along with my delivery in the real world face to face. Such as if i am talking to someone face to face with some of the advice i give here i might lean in to touch their shoulder (if i know them) and smile, and make them feel more comfortable hearing my message that will likely be pretty direct. The content is the same but how it is delivered, is different.

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This makes a lot of sense. One of my professors told me that I don't smile very often and look altogether too serious, so I've really been making a conscious effort to smile more, to make more jokes, to not be so reserved in an academic setting. I just feel wary of being obnoxious or looking like someone who is smiling all the time for no reason at all. I know there is a difference, though, between that and what you describe.

 

 

 

Well, there's the balance for you. I think it's funny that you guys here at ENA have a better sense of me than people I see 2-3 times a week!

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I think I was too friendly growing up which pushed some people off... if you're too friendly, people tend to assume you want something from them and they back off. So I developed a more abrasive personality which I've found can be equally damaging. And then I find myself flip flopping between the two to such a point that I'm not even sure who I really am or want to be sometimes.

 

The old cliche that says "be yourself" is about as baffling to me as string theory. The real me sometimes feels like a house of mirrors and if I can't get me, then how can anyone else?

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another thing too is that if you are introvert you have a shell, you may want the company of others and even want to make a good deal of friends but for whatever reason feel like you are 'missing' something or it just isnt adding up.

 

Few people 'get' intense individuals, few people get past the serious and focused side of you. But the ones that do likely can handle your personality.

 

 

I have to agree with this.

 

I honestly don't always know how I'm perceived... I tend to be pretty oblivious sometimes... or often I don't care I guess? I don't think I'm really seen as cold or a hard-ass, but solitary and independent yes. Closed off? Sure, sometimes. I'm not particularly introverted.. I can communicate quite easily with others, but often I end up observing in crowds at first... I've just always been that way.

 

One on one, however, I can be intense, and just like EQD said, it can feel rare to meet those who connect well with that intensity.

 

What is frustrating to me personally is when I meet someone I actually do want to connect with, but I'm afraid to let the "cold" walls down and scare them if they seem like the type who can't take it (kinda feeling in that position right now actually).

 

I don't think it has anything to do with being mean though. I know for me I just think a lot, feel a lot, and have experienced a lot too. These things can make me put on a stoic face and hide behind the humor and sarcasm easily.

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Do you think, maybe, that this is a consequence of just getting older and interacting with older and more mature people? Perhaps people find it more acceptable for people who are no longer "college age" (early 20's) to have a sort of frank, matter-of-fact attitude? But, to be honest--the people who perceive me as "mean" tend to be young as well (college age). Perhaps they're in for a rude awakening once they get out into the real world!

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I find that I have more guy friends, and girls generally don't take a liking to me because I have a very low "drama" tolerance. I was talking to a friend of mine a while ago, and I asked why he thought most girls tended to not like me, and he said it was probably because I seem like I could care less what people think of me. Which isn't true, and I had no idea I was putting out that vibe. But after I thought about it, I could see his point. When I'm around a group of people, or a friend is complaining about an issue, I'm almost too blunt with my answers. I end up telling the person talking that to me it seems like an immaturity issue or to stop wallowing in self pity after too long of listening to them complain about an issue. I hate fake sympathy, and I refuse to give it to anyone. I notice the majority of girls will feed into that sort of thing, and it's kind of a social expectation. So when you don't, people shy away.

 

I want more female friends, but I just can't stand most of the things they're in to, and I've never been able to keep up with the group dynamics.

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I think I was too friendly growing up which pushed some people off... if you're too friendly, people tend to assume you want something from them and they back off. So I developed a more abrasive personality which I've found can be equally damaging. And then I find myself flip flopping between the two to such a point that I'm not even sure who I really am or want to be sometimes.

 

The old cliche that says "be yourself" is about as baffling to me as string theory. The real me sometimes feels like a house of mirrors and if I can't get me, then how can anyone else?

 

At least the real you doesn't seem like a House (as in Dr. House) LOL! (even tho i love him anyway even tho he is mean LOL)

 

Isnt life strange....you have felt people pushed you away for being too friendly, yet i dont get that at all. I only got it when i WASNT as friendly. Yes life is confusing that is why it is even MORE important to be yourself and you have to at some point just let people draw their own conclusions and realize they won't always be correct. It is when we try to change our personality to much to conform that we come off the most confused.

 

BUt i will sAy that i have learned a skill over the years called 'bridging' in that i do change or 'bridge' my communication style to more closely match that of the listener. I am not 'changing for them' i am changing my own style of communication to better help them be more open to hearing me and make them more at ease. IT is something that has developed naturally for me over time as i think i am pretty in tune with the people around me. For example if i am with a very shy and soft spoken person my communication style switches to be a bit less abrupt, i might even speak a tad bit softer and i try to match theirs. It isn't something i am doing to try to be 'fake' becuase the real me is still intact - i am just tyring to make the person feel more at ease. We all know those very LOUD people who just seem loud and obnoxious to whomever they are around - that type of person might have a very hard time gaining the ease of a very shy and soft spoken person as they don't know how to bridge their communication style to be more effective for their audience. They are always exactly the same and can intimidate more people. They are free to do that, they just have to realize they are going to chase more people away. As upfront as even i am that kind of person really can annoy the heck out of me.

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This kind of reminds me of something.. are you guys ever told you are too introspective? (Usually when I am told these it is meant to say that I think too much)..

 

And why is that used as a cut down?

 

i've been told i am very introspective. sometimes to a fault.

but as a plus i have achieved a higher state of self awareness. so it can be a compliment too.

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Might be out in left field, but:

 

If most communication is non-verbal, and we don't really look at ourselves while we are with others, is it surprising that others see us differently?

 

I mean, sometimes I think EQD has been in a bad mood for 5 years. Maybe people are picking up facial expressions, body posture, etc, we don't realize we send out.

 

Just a theory.

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