I’m snobby?

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:

I’M SHY.

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.


73 thoughts on “I’m snobby?

  1. Do you know what? You could be describing me. I haven’t got your posture but I can really relate to being shy, introverted etc. I’m much older than you (more’s the pity!) but this has been my life. I’m not a crowd person, I don’t like social gatherings and it’s even worse now I’m in a wheelchair I can’t hide. I have two or three close and true friends and that’s enough for me. Don’t worry about it, you may find it a bit easier as you get older but one thing is for sure you’ll learn not to give a f***k! Keep on posting

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes I don’t have many friends, but the ones I keep close are really important and special to me. I will definitely try to keep being myself and to not let others bring me down 🙂 I hope you are doing well too!

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  2. I was surprised to learn many years ago that some people found me intimidating when I just thought myself confident and focused on getting a job done. My two takeaways from this surprising feedback were 1) it says as much about them as it says about me. Am I intimidating? Or are you letting yourself be intimidated? And 2) I remember it when I’m working with my students and make an extra effort to appear more gentle and approachable. So I’ve let the feedback work for me. By the way, your writer’s voice is not at all snobby. It’s sincere and thoughtful.

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    1. Thank you so much Deb 🙂 I’ve become more conscious of how I’m perceived as well and I try to seem more approachable at times too. I’m glad that’s worked for you, hopefully it’s working for me too!

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  3. I think this situation of being considered “snobby” is very common for introverts, who are more comfortable with a few close friends than a wide circle. Thank you for your honesty! We all inadvertently hurt other people by judging too quickly. I think people think I’m “uptight” when we first meet because I don’t really relax with someone until I know them better. We need to view people through God’s eyes, not our own!

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    1. I definitely can be tense too, sometimes a little awkward if I’m testing the waters with my sense of humour and personal quirks. I’m lucky to have amazing friends where we appreciate and support each other as well.

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    1. I don’t have too many friends either, but I find having fewer means you can invest more time and effort into each relationship and develop deeper connections. People who I call my friends are people I truly care about and would always have their back

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  4. I have to admit I don’t even want to know how people perceive me. Too scared to think about the impressions. The important thing is to try not to harm others, no matter if they are guessing about you or not.

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    1. That’s such a good mentality to have, one of my weaknesses is that I am self-conscious and care a lot about how others perceive me. I often am trying to balance leaving good impressions and still being true to myself. I really want to care less though, it’s an area I’m working on.

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      1. I understand. It is hard for me as well. My dad is brilliant at it. Even when people are mean to him he doesn’t get annoyed.

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      2. That’s the mentality I wish I had but it’s just not in my nature… oh well! We all have our ways with dealing with judgment, some just find it a little easier than others

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  5. Feedback from other people can be helpful, because we can never see ourselves as others see us. However, we need to think about the feedback and decide for ourselves about its validity.

    A few years back, one of my friends pointed out that I was behaving thoughtlessly. He was right. I corrected my behavior. Another time, one of my acquaintances gave me destructive feedback that I decided was unjustified. I chose to ignore it. As always, we need to listen to other people but still think for ourselves.

    https://the-1000-year-view.com/2019/01/29/our-own-personal-iagos/

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    1. That is such a great piece of advice, and it’s definitely what I do as well. I am open to feedback and always try to see things from their point of view, but I also trust myself to know when it is helpful and when it’s unjustified. It can create some conflict when people think you are arrogant for staying true to yourself and rejecting advice, but I suppose you have to weigh up the cost-benefit ratio

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  6. I’ve had something of the same problem for many years, and for the same reason: I’m shy. Not nearly as much as I used to be, which is why the issue 50 years ago was much worse than it is now…but it’s still there. Thank you for writing this.

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    1. Thank you Mike for reading 🙂 I’ve definitely become more confident over the years and a little bit more extroverted, but my shy nature will never leave me. Us timid folk have to stick together sometimes!

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  7. Those people could very well be insecure. I’m also an introvert, but I’m friendly when I have to be. Still, I’ve been told I’m “standoffish” or (usually coming from men I have no interest in) a snob. I just choose to be with people that I like, not groups or anything like that and even now in my 40s I have dealt with mean girls! I find them pathetic.

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    1. Yes! Introverts are not unfriendly at all! I am dying to make friends and leave a good impression, but being shy can make it difficult. Mean and judgmental people will always be around, as long as we choose the good ones to surround ourselves with, that’s the important thing

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  8. I confess I laughed as I’m certain I’ve radiated the same vibes for most my life (minus the elegance). Self-assurance and good posture will stand you in good stead, good for you!

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  9. There is much in here that I can relate to.

    On the one hand, I can accept that as a teenager I was a superior, condescending prat. Not because I actually thought I *was* superior to anyone else – my raging teenage inferiority complex saw to that – but as a reaction against the “macho” culture of the all boys Catholic secondary college I attended, in which “religion” was spelled S-P-O-R-T and a general vein of anti-intellectualism pervaded. So curling my lip and sneering down my nose at others was a way of curling up into a defensive ball and trying to make myself a small target through isolation.

    But as I have grown older, I have come to the conclusion that simply being intelligent makes life harder, not easier. If you are intelligent but good-looking, intelligent but good at sport or music or some other socially popular activity, intelligent but have a charming or disarming personality, then people are prepared to forgive you for having the temerity of being intelligent (hence my use of the word “but” in the above pairings). However, if intelligence is all you have, if your mind is all you have going for you, then people seem to reserve a particular species of resentment toward you, as though you have committed some unforgiveable social faux pas by not mitigating your intelligence with some other redeeming quality.

    Like yourself, physical appearance has also determined the response other people have toward me – albeit in a very different way. I am what most people call “burly” – tall, with a bit of weight, bearded, and possessed of a deep, resonant speaking voice. So people have always used words like “intimidating” to describe my physical presence.

    And, like yourself, I am an introvert. I don’t like crowds or “events”, I don’t like “chit-chat” or “talking about the weather”, I have never been comfortable in nightclubs and parties. Going to someone else’s place almost invariably finds me checking out their bookshelf rather than “mingling”. And the stuff I am interested in – culture, history, literature, anime, gaming, music, philosophy/theology, political economy – are just not the things most people I know care about.

    So – being told I am “intimidating” or “stand-offish” or “arrogant” or “a cold fish” or “a party pooper” or “boring” or “patronizing” or “conceited” are all just things I have learned to live with. Which is not to say that I just dismiss someone every time they apply such a label to me – I try and discern when someone is doing me the courtesy of being honest and according me genuine critique. And I am also aware of my tendency – inherited from my teens – to adopt such postures as a defense mechanism. But I have also realized that they are just an inevitable consequence for someone with my combination of intellect, personality type and physique. It doesn’t intrude upon or determine the course of my life or my self-perception; it is just a reality that I have learned to live with and navigate my way through.

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    1. This is such a powerful and personal piece, I am so appreciative you have taken the time to share this with me. Intelligence I find can be a double-edged sword, and one side is what you have described. I find myself sometimes feeling guilty for being academically inclined and having to downplay it instead of feeling proud. There have also been times where I think being smart has given me more burdens in life than I would have wanted, and I wished I was a little dumber. I don’t know if that’s a terrible thing to admit and whether people will lynch me for saying that, but I guess you always want what you can’t have.

      I am sorry that the dominant culture in the world means you are perceived in such a way that leads to isolation and being scorned by others. They didn’t take the time to get to know you, and that really is their problem. And even if you’ve learned to live with it, doesn’t mean it’s justified. It makes me incredibly angry sometimes that some people will live their lives never knowing the negative impacts of their actions/words. Never understanding their errors and feeling guilty. I hope that you know there are people out there who will appreciate you and won’t ever ask you to change yourself.

      By the way, my favourite thing to do at someone else’s place is to play with their dog if they have one 🙂

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      1. Thank you for your generous reply, and for taking the time to respond. 🙂

        I have to say I have met intelligent people who are arrogant and superior, and who think that because they have intellectual gifts that places them a cut above ordinary mortals. So just as my reaction as a teen was a defense mechanism against anti-intellectualism, I can understand that, in many respects, the way people have reacted to me over the course of my life has equally been a defense mechanism against intellectual snobbery.

        That said, I do think there is something about human cultures the world over that tends to dehumanise intelligent people, either by placing them on a pedestal or by resenting them for being intelligent. And I think the thing I have come to understand is that with intelligence comes a greater degree of emotional sensitivity, so that experiences which others might brush off as inconsequential are, for intelligent people, rather more hurtful. Which isn’t to say that I wish I had been coddled or “protected” – only that others had seen past the intelligence and through to the humanity beneath.

        But, of course, that cuts both ways – because I have been guilty of not seeing other people’s humanity because I have been operating on the basis of assumptions about others based on prior experience. This human condition, eh? 😛

        And yes – playing with dogs also works! 😀

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      2. Ahahah I am certainly guilty of making judgments too quickly as well! I think anyone who doesn’t admit that is lying. But at least we are aware and constantly trying to be better versions of ourselves 🙂

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  10. I don’t think it was really about you as much as it was about them. Your poise and the fact that you appeared self-assured (even if you weren’t) brought out their own insecurities and made them resent you for having something they wanted (would be my guess.) Personally, I love seeing people with good posture and a confident stance.

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  11. You’re not alone, Helen. I was told the same thing when a group of young women I worked with came to see me after I gave birth. Only they put it, “We thought you were a snob, but you’re really just shy, aren’t you?” Yes, that’s right, I am (was). My aunt taught me how to stand straight and walk tall with the cliched book on my head (seriously!) And I was an only child, without a lot of contact with other children. As an adult, I had to make myself act as though I was confident and friendly in social situations. And guess what? I eventually became that way. It’s that fake it til you make it mentality. You can do it too.

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    1. Man we keep discovering more and more things in common! I’m an only child who spent many of her teenage years interacting with more adults than people her own age. I’m definitely so much more confident than when I was a child, thank you and I’m definitely a fake it til you make it type of person!

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  12. I’ve been in that situation before on many accounts. I have pretty bad social anxiety. One of my biggest vices would be being too talkative when anxious or too quiet, like you said. It’s really hard to come into a conversation after being nervous and feeling as if you’ve already blew it with the person you’re trying to talk with. I’m sorry you went through that. I felt just as surprised when I was called a snob too. I was like what…. have you talked with me? Haha

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  13. As soon as I saw the word “snobby,” I thought the word “shy.” When I’ve taught interpersonal communication, it’s one of the first myths exploded, that quiet people are snobs. They’re not. They’re often the opposite.

    As for your posture, I’m so happy that you stand up straight. I don’t think your exercises should have been brutal. But for all the people who slouch, well, I’m relieved you don’t. If that is interpreted as snobbiness, I don’t know what to say. The health of your muscles, bones, and joint is worth it? (It is.)

    The rush to judgment as a social thing is rampant and is useless. But even though it’s useless it is rampant. I’m sorry for all those who fall on the wrong side of cliquish assessment and rejection, since that’s often what’s at work.

    There’s a notion that the first impression matters, and it does. That the first impression’s all we get, and that’s not so. If we would give everyone some time as well as invitationing to share, as Thorin says, it would be a merrier world.

    To say the least, I’d enjoy meeting you and learning more of your story. As I do. Bon courage, Helen.

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    1. Thank you so much Chris, I would definitely enjoy meeting you as well 🙂 I think what you’ve said about first impressions hits the nail on the head. It’s important, but it cannot define a person. We cannot make a judgmental call without getting to know them first. Unfortunately it happens all the time, and I’d be lying if I said I’ve never made such a mistake before. Just have to remember to keep an open mind!

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  14. Another really interesting post, and resonated with my experience of school, (though I don’t think boys are as practiced as girls in the dark arts of psychological warfare!) but, if your ballet training and ensuing posture is the root cause of your unpopularity, then you’ve made my day and I shall be looking forward to an imminent increase in affection. My daughter bought my wife and I Salsa lessons, and I can honestly say it was the most embarrassing experience of my life. We were taken quietly over to a corner where I was informed that I apparently have no rhythm whatsoever and was advised that line dancing may be an appropriate course….

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    1. Ahahaha! Unfortunately I don’t think my posture is the biggest contributor to my snobby reputation, but even if so I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Salsa is definitely quite a challenging style, I’ve not done a lot of street Latin in my life so I’m not great at it either. But you gave it a go and that’s what matters!

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  15. GIRL! I cannot tell you how surprising it is that I just found you, and one post deep, I already relate to you. Reading this made me reflect on how this actually seems like my life. I’m shy and I come across as snobby. There’s never a moment where I can just be SHY. I’ve got to be labelled snobby because I don’t mingle much and I also have a little social anxiety and hate big groups.
    The struggle is real here

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  16. I’m still called a nerd but i don’t really care about what people say coz the work of people is to form opinions and say things…I have close set of people whom I call mine and hold on to them…The rest i dont even care…Better to be that way I guess…Love and more power to you girl..

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  17. I’ve always been someone who’s outgoing but socially awkward. So I want to connect with everyone, but am really really self conscious. In the end I do make friends, but I’ve learned to value quality over quantity.

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  18. There are people in the world purposed to understand or contemplate and are not talkers. The talkers “stand out” and sometimes do not understand about the contemplators. Some understanders or contemplators have not completely accepted their function related to the whole and see themselves as different instead of united. I am an understander and I have to “walk acorss” process (function,purpose) places to talk. I know this as :using myself with my related existence:

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  19. It is surprising how years after an event people compare the you now to the you then.
    People who do not want to present an overpowering presence and prefer to be hidden within the pack tend to be judged for that same shyness.
    If you go the other way and make yourself the centre of attraction you will be judged as a show-off.
    Only your true friends and family will know the real you.
    Always be yourself.

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  20. Hey Helen! One of my close friends and ex-colleagues is a shy person. So, everyone in office thought of her as snobby. But, living in the same guest house, I have seen cry like a baby over her dead fish and take in stray dogs. People just don’t understand, that’s all. But then, that s not your problem.

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