I’ve never been a very popular person, in fact ever since my primary school days I’ve always been a middle-of-the-pack kind of girl. Likely more of the nerdy type, if that’s not already abundantly clear to everyone. I’ve discovered people are generally more accepting and less judgmental as we get older, although perhaps I’ve just found better people to associate myself with. But since I’m heading down memory lane, can I just say how glad I am glad to have left my high school years far behind me, because in hindsight there were too many vicious, gossiping “wannabes,” who believed social ranks were derived from how many parties you went to and how close you were to the “in” group. Think “Mean Girls,” but set in an all-girls Catholic college that was riddled with impenetrable cliques. I stuck to the people I truly trusted and whilst the numbers have dwindled since (you really discover who’s on your side when you’re not forced to be together 6 hours a day), I have 2 beautiful women whom I have over a decade’s worth of wonderful memories with.
But aside from the fact I am that student who would rather focus on my studies than socialising during class, I discovered a few years ago there are other reasons as to why I may not have a particularly large fanbase. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a friend a year or two out of high school, and whilst I cannot recall how we landed on this particular conversation topic, I do remember being told I give off a “snobby” air and often seemed to look down on others. Which was a complete surprise to me, because it had never been my intention, nor did I genuinely walk around thinking I was better than everyone else. And even if I disliked a person, I never make it obvious during our infrequent interactions and treated them with the respect I expected in reciprocation. So I was a bit taken aback to find out it was the reputation I held. If anything, I thought people barely knew who I was and had no opinions about me. I decided since it came from a singular source it was too small a sample size to draw conclusions from (there’s my scientific mind working), however, since then I’ve had one or two more remarks from close friends who were apparently once intimidated by me in the beginning of our friendships. Therefore we can assume those statements hold a bit more truth than I am happy to admit.
So I’ll acknowledge it right now, it’s not nice to find out you may have spent years looking like a condescending asshole to others, but the more important thing is, why? I suppose many of you are suspecting it’s because that’s who I am, and whilst I can’t provide any definitive proof I pinky swear I’m not. But Helen, why would people say such things if there’s no truth in it? Well, I know I’m not going to change everyone’s minds here but if you’re willing to stay there’s probably a couple of reasons why. Namely 2.
When my friend told me all those years ago about looking snobby, she went on to say the way I stood and held myself seemed like I was above it all. I have good posture. Is that a crime? I started ballet when I was 5, and moved on to ballroom and latin when I turned 12. I’ve been taught how to walk from scratch, how to move every muscle in my body in a purposeful way and to always exude elegance. It was actually a painful experience really, I remember being pushed against walls with my legs in splits and having them stretched beyond 180 degrees. I also remember being yelled at for doing things wrong and being told my kneecaps were too large to be a ballerina. But all my training has definitely shaped how I stand, walk and hold myself and I’m extremely thankful for it. I like the way I am, I like looking confident and having good coordination. If that means I seem like I’m too self-assured, then so be it.
But let’s be honest, that reason alone would never explain why I get mistaken for being stand-offish. Here’s the main reason:
That’s right guys, I’m shy. And when I’m uncomfortable in social situations, I become quiet and will stand sombrely in the corner, looking like I hate the world and everyone in it. I’m not a naturally talkative person who can effortlessly immerse myself into any social setting, in fact I’d probably call myself the “anti-chameleon” socialiser. You’ll find me quietly perched somewhere, looking mildly discombobulated and sticking out in all the wrong ways. In group meetings and team projects, even when I have something useful to share, I tend to second guess myself and keep quiet. By the time I’m ready to release my nugget of gold into the circle, I’ve spent the past few minutes looking disinterested and the moment has passed. I often hate small talk with strangers (unless we instantly click together) and it can genuinely make me break into a sweat when I think we are one weather comment away from running out of conversation topics. So I’m not snobby, I don’t think you’re not worth my time, I’m just a timid person. I’m pretty good at faking it during professional settings, such as seeing patients and meetings, but in social settings it can be tiring and let’s be honest, sometimes I just don’t care enough to turn the switch on. Just let me stand there by myself, looking like a sour puss.
But regardless of how I look, I promise I’m never standing there because I’m quietly judging you. In fact, there’s usually an array of things going on in my mind when I’m out, but they’re mostly obscure theme songs and bizarre thoughts that are completely benign. I’m genuinely a very nice person and I’m pretty sure all of my friends can attest to that (fingers crossed). I wish I had someone here to provide a testimonial, but unfortunately we’re currently all being good citizens of humanity and remaining isolated in our respective homes. Therefore, you’re going to have to take my word for it. I’ll apologise now if we ever meet and I seem a little cold, but please just give me a minute to warm up and I promise we’ll get on very nicely.