Yet more bullying at freaking grad school. . .

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06 Apr 2008, 8:51 pm

For the most part - my situation has been to be isolated. The occasional girl would come sit besides me only to leave "offended" by my lack of conversation. Some large fat guys would occasionally get a kick out of bullying me into "proper social interaction" or some such I can read in them. . .

At some point this short chubby girl - I notice she makes eye contact with me like about to say something. She noticed I noticed her new dye and seemed to like that - I myself do not exactly like her. At some point it turns out she knows my name in a group conversation where she asks me if I'm going to go to the next bar/club grad school meeting or whatever - and at some point later on she's sitting besides me everyday just like those girls that were once offended.
Before I know it she's driving me back home almost after every class - but it's all good as she lives next door with her boyfriend (she's in fact older than I).
She's not too smart and needs help understanding some of the stuff. As she has already obtained my mail (she seemed very confused when I gave her my uni address; maybe she wanted another mail; msn perhaps? - I play dumb) and phone number - the dreaded phone call finally happens. I tell her what she needs to know because I'm a good classmate after all and she tells me how she's gonna really really make good use of next's week to study at home because her boyfriend's gonna be on a trip - repeats the boyfriend's gonna be on a trip and her alone in her apartment like 3 f*****g times until I abruptly change subject which in turn causes her to make an uncomfortable pause before going on like if nothing had happened.

Fast forward, nothing relevant happens - I'm happy to play along so as to prove to everyone else that I'm not really isolated meaning that whatever failure to get along with me is on their part and a clique - mostly made up of these chicks that once sat besides me and were offended and so on as well as the aforementioned fat gits - begins to get her to sit elsewhere for a time. Smells bad but I care not.

Fast forward - back from eastern holidays - turns out she downright hates me.
Not only she avoids me like the plague, whatever staring in my general direction she makes is rather unfriendly and from a distance. It got to the point where - whenever our paths cross she hurries by with an obvious look of disgust as in "I so hate this freak!". She even tried to get people sitting in my general area to let's all just go sit elsewhere in a voice that I could hear! Even other people have begun ignoring me too! This is crazy!
_

I suppose she got frustrated because I didn't turn out to be what she wanted me to be or maybe even she heard rumors. . . That's fine. Is this jihad really necessary?! Can't she just not-like-me and leave me the hell alone?.
I'm not even sure what did she want in the first place - most sanely just a friend but I really don't know.

Explain. :(



Cyanide
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06 Apr 2008, 9:53 pm

No, the "jihad" you describe is not necessary...
I guess she really took it personally that you wouldn't screw her when she was blatantly inviting you to do so.
Just curious, but what are you in grad school for?



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06 Apr 2008, 10:04 pm

Woah, that sounds crazy. People are so weird and scary.



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06 Apr 2008, 10:42 pm

Maybe she had sex in mind but maybe I'm being paranoid and she just wanted a friend - after all, everyone's trying to do networking in that group; maybe she thought I'd make a great connection to get her a better job (people fantasize stupid things about me when they seem with a suit and overcoat). Maybe not even that.

It's too big a reaction anyway. :(

Cyanide wrote:
Just curious, but what are you in grad school for?

F i n a n c e . . .



nory
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06 Apr 2008, 11:36 pm

don't be too defensive. You don't know really what her intentions were. She sounds like she was a bit aggressive though, and she has a boyfriend so really. Not too smart.

My philosophy is "don't send the invitation if you don't want to party" (after the country song). Meaning, don't accept favors or drives home with people if you do not like them or want to get to know them. That is accepting a gesture from them.

When I was in grad school I had a lot of people mad at me because of the lack of conversation thing as well. I was scared of people and intimidated by people too, and people can bully you when they sense that. I'm good at conversation about some things but if I'm caught off guard I'll be quiet and yes, they can get very offended. I was shocked at how many married people would make inappropriate passes on you in grad school - like isn’t' this supposed to be the time of life when people are young and innocent? Apparently not.

My theory is that grad school is full of people who feel quite intellectually superior, so they feel like the world, and everything in it, is theirs for the taking.

I don't like your descriptions of people. Its like those awful children's books that immediately define the antagonist or bully as "the fat kid" - its so mean and irrelevant to the actual point you are making. Do you think you were hostile to her right off the bat because you sensed she was an outsider too...?



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07 Apr 2008, 12:58 am

Nope, I wasn't hostile to her; I even made an effort to keep up with her small talk so as to make up for my previous shortcomings with others. I didn't specifically dislike her - I don't specifically dislike her even now; although I do find all this very weird and I'd rather that it stopped. I didn't even know that accepting those drives home would be more of a problem than not; she was so pushy about it that I felt a rejection on my part would be too grating. After all, people in this class seem give each other drives home all the time! It's only the phone call that weirded me out. Still, I continued to be friendly with her and gradually lost touch; I had expected to eventually have a better understanding of the whole situation but she suddenly became aggressive on her own before I could get more feedback.
I don't think she's an outsider; I'm the only outsider I ever saw. . .

Sorry, about the descriptions. It's a bad habit of mine to take one or two aspects of a person I dislike and scornfully rattle them all over the place. Though, now that I think about it, those guys do make me think of primary school bullies; they are so large and their body fat is so evenly distributed they look like big mean kids rather than adults; they look like the kind of strange characters that would harass the protagonist in some Franz Kafka novel. :lol: - but I'll stop.

Still, I can't make sense of these guys. The very day after one of those girls ceased to sit besides me - the fact that I had forgotten to remove my stuff from the adjacent chair at her arrival had probably been the straw that broke the camel's back - these guys, got up, walked up to me and asked me to remove my stuff so that they could sit. It's kind of asshole-ish, as I always remove my stuff when someone shows intent to sit and/or asks - that girl had directly sat further away without asking; I get a sensory overload of sorts in those classes so that particular time I was too exhausted and I left it up to her. Really, to make such an issue of that. . . I played dumb and welcomed them.
Anyway, what happened next is that we ended up doing some rather decent group-work. They could have continued the harassment but instead we co-operated. They returned to sitting at their usual place ever-after. One of them randomly says "hi" to me for no apparent reason; as in: some days he'll make a point of it and the rest he'll ignore me - not sure what's up with him.
. . .doesn't make sense to me at all.

_______

To make things more confusing: the girl harassing me right now began sitting next to me a little bit after this chair incident thing. . .
Now that she's sitting with that group - that other girl is back as though they'd swapped places. She's back just like before - whispering me pointless questions each 10 minutes. Sometimes I'm so overloaded I don't even understand what she says! I try to dissimulate by nodding and faintly smilying but it's obviously already not working. What's she looking for? To be offended again?!



nory
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07 Apr 2008, 3:05 am

I think you are framing your experiences in a ‘victim’ ‘aggressor’ or predator/prey structure, and over time this could become more and more problematic for you. While this is very true and is the essence of most films and story plots and many of life’s dramatic relationships (sadly – like abusive bosses, teachers, parents…) its less simple in the small interactions of everyday life. It’s a defensive outlook that keeps everyone at bay. True right now you have a lot of work to do and you need to protect yourselves from others, especially aggressive people, but I think you are over-doing it and should start to re-wire your thinking to perceive and understand that everyone is vulnerable and sensitive in some way, everyone is also an outsider in some way and everyone will suffer somehow, if not now then later in life. You seem to have a ‘me’ (the outsider) and ‘them’ (offended and offending) concept. Everyone is afraid of rejection and there are no stock characters in the world, as nice as it is to visualize them that way. I love archetypes myself, they are fun. But to be used carefully.

In American culture there is this media association of the “large fat guy” and “short chubby girl” as universal archetypes for loser or bully, and its ridiculous and offensive and superficial to keep playing into this.

It seems that when you saw her you resented her behavior largely because you immediately classified her as this archetype, as well as ‘older’ immediately creating a narrative where she was in an antagonistic bully role to you. You also, in your message, conjured the image of an “outsider” to the social norm with this description. Often outsiders will see another outsider and try to bond with them and this bond will be rejected in anger. It’s the “I’m not one of you!” thing.

I am not saying you should be friends with her. Quite the opposite. You feel she is aggressive and you do not feel friendly towards her I think you should respect your instincts but what it seems you are doing is being ambiguous towards her so she does not know if you are friends are not. The best thing to do in her case is to make up a “Bunbury” (an imaginary friend from The Importance of Being Ernest) and the next time she wants your time say, Sorry but I must help Bunbury, he/she depends on me now and is my priority.” Or all my time is being taken by this or that. Don’t help her anymore with her flagging schoolwork, that’s her responsibility.

You seem to suggest that the girls you would like to talk to leave offended, but she did not to your chagrin. Maybe this is because as an outsider you felt comfortable enough talking to her so she got the wrong impression. To get the girls not to be offended and leave, simply smile a lovely smile at them and say, ‘please don’t be offended if I don’t always know what to say, I can be kind of shy.” Slam dunk. They’ll love you for it and feel flattered. And accommodate you.

Here are things I would never do to someone I don’t know (if I don’t want to get to know them).

• comment on a guys hair.
• Accept a ride with anyone, if it was a friend I would pay half the gas. But even then I wouldn’t like it.
• Talk about what social events I’m planning to go to.
• Help some guy with his homework (if not in a larger group where others are also helping)


Regarding the last part of your message, with removing stuff from the adjacent chair etc… I don’t really see the “harassment” that you see. A lot of people are just tired and exhausted as well, and also defensive in approaching you because they want to sit next to you and perhaps you have purposefully put up a barricade to prevent it – (that’s always a possibility in their wary minds) – so before the good work can be done there is a little confusion, as there usually is before the best of work can be done. Think no more of it. Try not to analyze the ‘hi’s’ and ‘bye’s’ too much. It’s a waste of time, put it into your schoolwork. The girl probably had her ego bruised by a perceived rejection of her, so she left. If she was being coy about her boyfriend being out of town that is her own embarrassment and her leaving was probably because she knew it reflected badly on her character.

I think a lot of what you call ‘harassing’ is just social interaction, filled with all its undercurrents, good and bad. As a sensitive person you pick up on all these and its hard not to get lost in them, or very indignant. Its not nice having someone you do not like whispering to you all the time when you are trying to focus, I understand that. When she is around, try not to look at her. Smile at other people to show her that your social attention is divided equally among other people. Mention her boyfriend out loud amongst the group, or make a joke of it. Solidify this realty for her in a friendly way so she knows where you stand with it.

I’m not trying to be harsh. I just don’t want you to waste these good years of your life being offended and worrying about offending. I do want your grad school experiences to be better than mine were.

Also, be very flattered, people like you and want to be around you! Your obviously a prized and important member of the study group. Your only problem is trying to deal with the nuances, just don’t let them bog you down. You actually should get that little book, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”.



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07 Apr 2008, 3:37 am

nory wrote:
In American culture there is this media association of the “large fat guy” and “short chubby girl” as universal archetypes for loser or bully, and its ridiculous and offensive and superficial to keep playing into this.

It seems that when you saw her you resented her behavior largely because you immediately classified her as this archetype, as well as ‘older’ immediately creating a narrative where she was in an antagonistic bully role to you. You also, in your message, conjured the image of an “outsider” to the social norm with this description. Often outsiders will see another outsider and try to bond with them and this bond will be rejected in anger. It’s the “I’m not one of you!” thing.


I'll try to reply in more detail tomorrow as I need some sleep.

I'm not American (or north american for that matter), sorry. I was exaggerating when I said chubby; she looked alright but I still have and had reasons not to want anything other than friendship; sorry again if it offended anyone. In fact, all these characters would look pretty fit for American stereotypes - I just have a knack for blowing things out of proportion to the point I myself am not even sure the extent to which I'm kidding; my bad once again.

The one thing you are very right though is that I've no idea how to relate to people in normal situations - there've been few situations in my life where I wasn't ostracized or a scapegoat, even within my own family. I know everything about being attacked - little else.

I'll do what you say about somehow apologizing for being shy or whatnot.
. . .and hopefully relax too.

The one whispering questions now is another one - the one that drove me back speaks to me no more (which is good because I'm a bad liar and I'd probably mix up whatever's up with Bunbury) Actually, all do that - whispering questions that is - and it's annoying. The one whispering questions now used to sit next to me earlier last year until she got mad and I find it weird that she's showed up again just now - that was it.



Thomas1138
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07 Apr 2008, 4:57 am

I can't make a judgement call from here, but is it possible that you're just being a bit egocentric and most of these people really don't give a rip about you one way or another?



nory
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07 Apr 2008, 7:44 am

Now that I look at it closely - my message definitely seemed aggressive... yes a bit like a bully wrote it ... a grad school bully...?!

and yet i must continue and while you sleep no less... don’t worry I’m not hitting on you. :wink: ……? …?! !

Basically I worded my message strongly because (I have no tact) and you:

• seem to fixate on the negative and expect the worst
• seem to see interactions with females as part of either ‘come hither’ or ‘go away I’m offended’ dynamics
• don’t seem to have much compassion for them as multifaceted human beings with their own inner truth and sincerity as deep and fathomless as your own. They seem to, in your mind, either want or not want something from you.

I also want to say that it's not just American. Look at Dudley in the Harry Potter books. Is it necessary for an author as prolific as Rowling to continuously go on about his physical appearance in order to convey the message that he is a bad kid? I'm sure I could come up with an example from another part of the world. I’m just saying this is a pattern we have, its like the old days when we determined criminal behavior by the shape of people's heads.

And again you mention how this girl looks, according to what standards, and that she is not your thing - It does make me think you are over-analyzing the romantic interest angle of the whole thing. Or like Paris Hilton seeing everything in the universe in terms of whether it is hot or not. It seems to me that maybe the crux of this issue you have is that you are offended that a person you feel is beneath you would make what you feel is a personal gesture towards you.

There is a good article by Deborah Tannen called, “The Argument Culture” about how we frame everything these days around polarizing arguments. Are they bullies or freaking bullies? Is this short chubby girl good or bad? She is neither. Everyone is multifaceted. Also, as hard as it can be to deal with, sometimes people who just don’t like us, as well, can be good people in other respects. But that’s a whole other thing…

I worded it very strongly, but what I meant is that sometimes when people are sensitive they see everything incoming as a personal assault and I just want to encourage you not to hurt people's feelings, or compromise a true understanding of the situation, by treating them as an antagonist when they don't really deserve it. Nobody likes feeling like a bad guy/girl. It's damaging to people's spirits. It also makes them act bad towards you, like a mirror reflecting what you show you see in them back to you in spades.

You mention that in your family you are scapegoated a lot (I can relate), but I think it has made you kind of overly precautious, as I am too. I dealt with a lot of very mean spirited people in grad school, cold competitive students and social situations and profs that were bullies and I still have nightmares about, honestly. For instance, I had one guy who always stared me down with a weird, awful look in his eye whenever no one was looking, and he also said everything I said was blasphemous. And in the hallway he once smiled nastily and stood in front of me so I could not pass. Yes. Grad school. I actually could come up with a nasty physical description of him but I wont, just in case you happen to look exactly like him and are offended.

But the more cautious and afraid I was with people and the more I analyzed it the more I started to worry about every little thing and the more afraid of speaking out I got and the quieter and more reserved I became… and the more misunderstandings arose. If you talk to someone and you look like you are expecting attack they will likely not put any more time into you because it does not make them feel that great. My experience is the guys were a whole lot nicer and warmer in general than the girls were, and could deal with friendly silences better - I don’t know why. Maybe because girls are more social or group oriented and also more suspicious, they need to put feelers out and know exactly where they stand. I got a lot of cold shoulders as well because I was not able to socialize the same way as them, so don’t over-analyze it as part of a dating ritual.

True, a lot of people are flirts and will flirt a lot with it meaning nothing. I don’t like this, I hate it actually, but its so common so when it happens you don’t have to be so offended or take it seriously or literally. Just ignore it. Your not under any real threat. Unless you truly like the person.

I just think you are wasting your good precious mind by thinking bad, defensive thoughts about this person or that or worrying about personal violation in the social details occurring. I’m not saying this because I’m better at this than you I’m saying this because I, ahead in time many years from you, regret wasting my time worrying about these kind of things because it doesn’t matter in the long run. If you want to form a more long-lasting relationship with one of them send an email where you can articulate yourself in a rehearsed manner. And do it at the end of class. I’ve dropped exactly three classes because someone has asked me out at the very beginning and feeling awkward and shy or embarrassed I did not want to have to interact with them for another four months.

One more thing,

I've also made the mistake of being too honest, like calling the situation as it is; I apologize for not being social, I just can't have relationships etc… Big mistake. There is no point in creating an uncomfortable moment, giving your life story, revealing to much of yourself or making yourself look bad just to make others feel better about the fact that you are rejecting them. That’s the only reason I mentioned something as silly as a Bunburry. Which can also be something like a thesis or tutoring or upcoming work or travel. I cannot make any plans, my schedule is at the mercy of Bunbury. Its something solid to fall back on so when someone says, my house is empty, come over – you don’t say, oh no you don’t you trollop!

The bunbury does not have to be a lie. It can be a misplaced truth. In that you take something real in your life, and use it to be on-call for when you need it.

Now you said,

Quote:
The one thing you are very right though is that I've no idea how to relate to people in normal situations - there've been few situations in my life where I wasn't ostracized or a scapegoat, even within my own family. I know everything about being attacked - little else.
I never meant to say that you don't know how to relate to people in normal situations. I think your reaction I normal and fine. Seinfeld does the same thing actually, when you think about it, he hinges on these little details of life and usually people end up offended because he’s read something into the situation or interpreted it in a way that perhaps he shouldn’t have.

Seinfeld did not have to put up with the rest of the sadness of being ostracized, I know. I can relate to that and have nothing to say in response other than you have to be your own best friend but don't exclude others. Be as sincere and trustworthy to others as you are with yourself.

I know in print this probably comes off as sounding like a horrible lecture but trust me when I say, I was much worse than you are in terms of what you complain of.

Just remember, no one likes people who behave perfectly all the time. As long as you are not with someone who wants to exploit your differences (as maybe this girl is) or someone who wants to make a project of you (these are unhappy people) I am sure you will find people will more than appreciate you for who you are. Most people take great joy in the social imperfections that make us human.

I agree with your assessment to just relax. Relax and enjoy this time of your life and don’t be too upset with yourself or others over these social interactions. It is what I wish I had done.



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07 Apr 2008, 10:55 am

EvilKimEvil wrote:
Woah, that sounds crazy. People are so weird and scary.


I second that. 8O


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07 Apr 2008, 8:52 pm

nory wrote:
And again you mention how this girl looks, according to what standards, and that she is not your thing - It does make me think you are over-analyzing the romantic interest angle of the whole thing. Or like Paris Hilton seeing everything in the universe in terms of whether it is hot or not. It seems to me that maybe the crux of this issue you have is that you are offended that a person you feel is beneath you would make what you feel is a personal gesture towards you.


Not at all. She's the one suddenly being awful to me, not the other way round.
I took interest in her as a friend of sorts and was happy to help her even after that weird phone call - gradually taking distance and then becoming hostile was on her part.
I don't think she had romantic interest per se; I'm not sure what she had but something was off - as she seemed fixated in me months before we spoke and already knew my name and whatnot. . .
The "looks" of this girl - which I said were alright in the post you are replying to -, if she really was up to something sexual, are not even within the top 5 reasons why I would turn her down if that were the case. For all cases where this might be of any relevance - all that happened is that I changed subject when she kept repeating the whole all alone at her apartment + boyfriend on trip thing and the conversation continued on friendly terms.

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More than necessarily aggressive you rather come off to me as ambivalent and way more sensitive about the whole looks business than anyone else who replied. Your posts, in which you subtly even compare me to Paris Hilton, are becoming noticeably longer than the original - do not let this become any bigger to you than it is to me. I do not, however, see you as a bully - I just suspect you have your own issues which cause you to reply this much and with certain specific biases.

Thomas1138 wrote:
I can't make a judgement call from here, but is it possible that you're just being a bit egocentric and most of these people really don't give a rip about you one way or another?


Nope, as I'm sure that, in fact, most people don't care. I do however think that there's gossip and unhealthy group dynamics so to say. . . I, for example, was basically insulted by someone who expected to win in a business simulation and instead did terribly bad. These people seem to have watched a lot of American movies about yuppies and are a bit cut throat in proving everyone how terrific they really are.
Also, how some people around me behave is a mystery to me; I just can't fathom anything in their look and I'd like to understand. . . (though, most people will say there's nothing to be understood - that's the hardest part for me).

Also the girl in question was weird. . .
I'd expect less intense reactions from someone in her thirties. . .



Last edited by Whisperer on 07 Apr 2008, 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

nory
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07 Apr 2008, 10:00 pm

Whisperer wrote:
Not at all. She's the one suddenly being awful to me, not the other way round.
I took interest in her as a friend of sorts and was happy to help her even after that weird phone call - gradually taking distance and then becoming hostile was on her part.
I don't think she had romantic interest per se; I'm not sure what she had but something was off - as she seemed fixated in me months before we spoke and already knew my name and whatnot. . .
The "looks" of this girl - which I said were alright in the post you are replying to -, if she really was up to something sexual, are not even within the top 5 reasons why I would turn her down if that were the case. For all cases where this might be of any relevance - all that happened is that I changed subject when she kept repeating the whole all alone at her apartment + boyfriend on trip thing and the conversation continued on friendly terms.


you purposefully misunderstand. and...

:roll: It sounds like the only one fixated on this girl is you...



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07 Apr 2008, 10:12 pm

nory wrote:
Whisperer wrote:
Not at all. She's the one suddenly being awful to me, not the other way round.
I took interest in her as a friend of sorts and was happy to help her even after that weird phone call - gradually taking distance and then becoming hostile was on her part.
I don't think she had romantic interest per se; I'm not sure what she had but something was off - as she seemed fixated in me months before we spoke and already knew my name and whatnot. . .
The "looks" of this girl - which I said were alright in the post you are replying to -, if she really was up to something sexual, are not even within the top 5 reasons why I would turn her down if that were the case. For all cases where this might be of any relevance - all that happened is that I changed subject when she kept repeating the whole all alone at her apartment + boyfriend on trip thing and the conversation continued on friendly terms.


you purposefully misunderstand. and...

:roll: It sounds like the only one fixated on this girl is you...


Are you an NT lurker, Nora?

In case you were not aware, people who have AS go into detail about a lot of stuff. Yes, they are even typically fixated on things, like someone with OCD.



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07 Apr 2008, 10:24 pm

Whisperer wrote:


Are you an NT lurker, Nora?



:?