How to handle the people you don’t like

I dislike very few people in my personal life. This is a terrible thing.

I give chance after chance to most–often ending up hurt in the end. If I’m unsure about someone, I may still wait in a purgatory of indifference until I can make a full decision about them, often for years. It usually takes a personal assault or a litany of human rights violations before I really, truly dislike someone. At best, I am seen as a wishy-washy “Switzerland” type; at worst, I strain friendships and get caught in the middle of some incredibly tenuous spats. Sometimes I explode, letting the floodgates of my feelings open and my hatred flow out in a concentrated stream towards the rare individual who dares to provoke my ire. It’s not fun. Now do you see why this can be terrible?

I am–horn-tooting time– a nice person. Like, ludicrously nice. Nice to the point where people in my first job disliked me at first because they thought I was faking it. That is, until they were proven wrong by my impassioned dedication to getting my work done and bringing in my own baked goods for everyone to eat. I look for the best in people. I try to be nice. I always try to be honest. I try not to speak too off-the-cuffly. And I give, and I give, and I give.

At the same time, anyone who has spent a decent amount of time with me can also tell you that although I have this ball of exuberant emotion for a heart, I can be awful. My awfulness stems from two things: (1) my profound insecurity with myself and (2) my inability to hide my emotions. Some have referred to the latter as something that makes me “So authentic!!111!@” but ugh–no. It sucks.

I have not been above posting awful subtweets about people with different political viewpoints. If I feel slighted by someone, it’s not unheard of for me to visibly glare at them when I see them, to the tune of “I. Will. Destroy. You.” Sometimes I’ll raise my voice and use bad words at my boyfriend if he does something to upset me, instead of listening to him and calming the crap down. All of this happens because (1) and (2) are facts with varying degrees of inescapability.

That said, I can see why people might not like me.

But I’ll go into that in another post. I say the above because it helps me understand where others are coming from. If I feel like I don’t like someone, I ask myself the following questions:

  • Does this person remind me of a worse version of me? A version of me that carries my negative traits?
  • Do I know all of the facts about this person’s life?
  • Does this person have as many awful qualities as I think they do, or am I making up some of this in my head?
  • Did this person personally hurt me, either intentionally or unintentionally? Have they apologized for doing so?
  • Did this person hurt people I know and/or love? Have they apologized for doing so?
  • Does this person simply have a fundamentally different personality than I do?

And the kicker:

  • Do I spend enough time around this person to actively dislike them?

If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, I would figure out a way to get away from this person, whether they’re a family member, a friend, a coworker, or anyone else. However, if most of it is concentrated in a “yes” answer to the first question above, this adds an incredibly complicated layer to it all. You may, in fact, need to take the time to further understand this person–provided you have to be around them. In the end, you may better understand yourself.

Although they are few in number, I do have a few people that I actively dislike in my life. I won’t say who, only that they are somewhat powerful forces in my life and will likely continue to be for a while. Because of this, I make efforts to understand them when I can, I show them kindness, and I find ways to at least reduce my time around them. The hardest part is hiding how I feel. I’m sure that these people have seen my death-glare more than a few times, but I make it an effort to stay as kind as possible. If I can offer any one bit of advice, it’d be to stay kind around these people you must be around.

In any event, hope everyone’s enjoying the new year. I’m sure 2017 will bring of bevy of interesting things for all of us to the table. Let me know what you hope to accomplish this year in the comments below!

-H

On confidence and over-worrying

“I’m dropping out of school,” I told Adrienne.

“Uh…no you’re not.” A firm response from one of my dearest friends came back to me.

I was sitting on a wooden bench in ASU’s business building. Despite the deluge of students pouring out of their respective classrooms to head to their next obligation, I was crying, as I customarily do whenever any more-than-minor blow comes up (people who know me: sorry). But this was a long, continuous cry – a sure-fire sign that I was having a more grave difficulty with my life at that moment than usual.

I was sitting at a solid 3.6 GPA for my Master’s degree. I had passed 3 of the 4 sections of the CPA exam. I was the president of my business fraternity and ostensibly doing a fantastic job – we had earned a community service award, drastically increased our membership and attendance, and had finally elevated ourselves to the level of Nationally Distinguished Chapter. I had put hundreds of hours into volunteering for my community and had changed lives in the process. I had had a job lined up at a top accounting firm for months. I had built friendships with my college friends that would prove to be rewarding and life-affirming.

So…why exactly was I crying? Because I failed a test. One. Freaking. Test. It had been for a class I hated that I felt was thoroughly inconsequential to my long-term career goals. But it didn’t matter, because in my mind…

If I failed the test, I would probably fail the class (which was probable, had I not taken steps to ameliorate my grade). If I failed the class, I would fail my degree (which is true). If I failed my degree, I would lose my job offer. If I lost my job offer, I would go back to being a nobody with no job. And if that happened, well…I might as well be the most useless human being in the world, right? And all of the great things I had done would be overshadowed by this one measly indiscretion, right?

It seems completely irrational and stupid that I went down this mental path. And, to be frank with my 22/23-year-old self, it was, honey. It was. But it’s a perfect example I can use to illustrate just how crippling and debilitating my lack of confidence can be.

Of course, things have improved since then. At nearly 26, I no longer think that my world will detonate if I “fail” a work assignment/task (since school doesn’t apply here anymore). I can analyze things a little more rationally and I cry a little less often. But I still have my moments.

Sometimes my confidence is like an overheated engine running way too many RPMs too fast and I’m bordering on arrogance with how good I feel about myself. Other times, I struggle to pick out one positive attribute about myself and I let myself downward-spiral into a pit of harrowing despair. For instance, when I start to care about someone from a romantic perspective, my confidence levels go especially berserk. My mind is nothing but an endless feed of “doubt snippets”, or questions and comments that continuously flow through my stream of consciousness and prevent me from acting like a normal human being. So if I like someone, my brain is tapping away at my mind-door going How do I keep this person? At the same time, how do I be myself? What does “being myself” mean anyway? I’m kind of crazy, but in a good way, like it’s funny…I think? Am I actually funny? Am I enjoyable to be around at all? I feel like I’m ugly. But this person says I’m pretty. Am I pretty, though? They could totally be lying! Are they lying? What else are they lying about when they say nice things? Oh God, I’m starting to feel like I want this person to be my..you know…BOYFRIEND soon. Should I feel this way already? Should I feel that other way instead? How should I act? Do I act interested? Do I have the right to care about x or y? And so on and so forth.

All the while, I accidentally end up being myself – open, wacky, and emotionally vulnerable, that is. And traditionally, the people who choose to boo me up tend to be the people who are okay with open, wacky, and emotionally vulnerable. And when things ended, it generally wasn’t because of who I am a person, but because of things totally unrelated. Which, you know, is pretty common among people, the super-awesome and confident included.

Still, it’s not fun to deal with those negative thoughts while I’m trying to do something positive. I want to start going into situations and minimizing those thoughts as much as possible. Whether it’s for a new job in the future, a pole competition, or a love interest, I want to be confident in who I am and know that things will play out for the best. I might get that job – if I don’t, there’s a better one around the corner. I might win that competition – if I don’t, I walk away learning what not to do in the future. I might snag the guy I stan for, and if I don’t, he wasn’t the one for me anyway.

Things, generally speaking, happen the way they are supposed to happen.

I want to be confident. I want to worry less. I have already spent countless hour hypothesizing why I don’t feel confident and why I worry at times, but I’m at the point where I’m just trying to improve with regards to these matters.

And as lazy as it sounds, I think the best thing I can do is just let life happen.

-H

On choosing art over STEM

When I use Twitter for the powers of good over evil–“evil” meaning Beyonce gif retweets and personal rants about sexism when I should be working– I stumble upon some extremely useful and scarily-pertinent-to-my-own-life articles. The most recent one that caught me off guard something fierce was this one from Femsplain, which discusses a topic I’ve been thinking about for a long time: am I contributing enough if I choose a creative career over a more science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM)-focused one?

You readers are scoffing at me right now. “Haley, are you serious? Mozart, Picasso, and Meryl Streep are all artists and have made some of the greatest contributions to the world ever through their art. Whatchu smokin’?”–and I get it. Of course artists have always been, and will continue to be, vital to society and the human experience. Of course these people (and many others) have changed the world through their art.

But here’s the thing.

Creativity, as a person who I currently admire put it, is not something that can be forced and is not something that is ever-flowing. Creativity isn’t there 8 hours a day turning a profit. And even when it strikes, it is not always striking gold. One can create continuously and may still never have their creations seen. Or, they may be seen by a few people, but not many. Even even if they are seen, they may not help the creator live by making them money. Oftentimes, art’s impact is determined by the random placement of the right eyes on it. Art that is just as meaningful or impactful can be overlooked simply because it wasn’t provided with this privilege.

Conversely, in a world that is pushing for STEM jobs to be taken, one can find oneself building products or infrastructure that dramatically change their community or the world. That same person might be managing millions of dollars in people and stakes. They may be making millions of dollars a year because of this. They will be seen as an innovator because their “creations”–however uncreative–have a lasting, functional impact. They will be seen as useful because there are figures tied to their name.

This begs the question: is life about making an impact on as many people as possible? Or is it about doing something–anything–that impacts at least ONE person in a positive way?

Though my path is a series of awkwardly-placed stepping stones towards a creative life, I like to think that I have chosen the life of an artist nonetheless. My accolades, my income, and my recognition will not be guaranteed once I officially strike out on my own. But when that time comes, I’m willing to give it a shot anyway. I take care of myself well enough to afford a roof over my head, groceries, and–okay–new pole gear from time to time. But I’m starting to get the feeling that I’m willing to risk some of that, even if I impact just one of you.

How do we feel about this? For those of us who STEM doesn’t sing to, do you sometimes get scared or intimidated? Is it worth it to risk everything to live the life you love, regardless of what it is that you love?

-H.