I don't know. Periodically I post this up here:
Mostly it has to do with times when I feel like I'm saying the wrong thing, or reacting the wrong way to other people.
I had that happen a couple times yesterday. One of them may not have been entirely my fault. I don't know.
I'll start with the second. At last night's church meeting, one of the women was (good-naturedly) harassing me about not having baby pictures to show. (I'm sorry. I don't have a smart phone that I can get my e-mail on so I don't have the immediacy of things like that some people crave - to show the pictures, I'd have had to have printed them out.) She didn't stop, and finally I busted out with: "I haven't had time to turn on my home computer since Sunday, so I couldn't print them out." There were moments of aghastness - how could anyone be so busy they couldn't do THAT? (Trust me, I can). And then she noted she was "just busting my chops."
I'm sorry. I didn't come from a family or culture where teasing a person you liked was very common. And I interpret being teased about not having done something I was "supposed" to do as being intended to suggest that I am not sufficiently good at juggling everything I'm trying to juggle. (And, did I say, at that point I was TIRED?) So I reacted badly. And I know I react badly to implications that I can't keep all my ducks in a row, because that's one of the things....if I'm NOT sufficiently meeting all my responsibilities, then why am I tired all the time? Why do I have so little free time? If I'm not doing it well enough, why am I even bothering to make the sacrifice?
But I was also smarting from the previous incident, and of course my reaction to the lady made me feel even worse about it....
I happened to run into a lower-level admin on my campus. This is an individual I have (mostly successfully) avoided in the past. He is someone who, shall we say, is not the most comfortable person to deal with. He's not in my direct chain of command but is someone more "highly placed" than I am.
(I have a colleague who has a beard. He tells me that when this guy sees him out somewhere, he (the guy) grabs his beard and pulls it! I told my colleague I'd consider that borderline assault, though my colleague can mostly laugh it off...I suppose it's different when you're a man.)
Anyway, the talk turned to something....the upcoming Hallowe'en holiday I think. And I made some comment about my past celebrations of it. And he looked at me in wonder, and said, "I didn't picture you ever dressing up for Hallowe'en. I kind of picture you as our female Sheldon Cooper."
And I looked at him and quietly and politely said, "I don't think you know me as well as you think you do." But in my head, I was screaming at him. Because I'm quite sure he didn't mean it in a complimentary way. (Is there any way to compare someone to Sheldon that is complimentary?)
Actually, I realized: this guy has occasionally made very demeaning and insulting jokes about particular people in my presence, and I have refused to laugh. Because I think humor that demeans other people - ESPECIALLY when there is a power-element involved (as in, the person doing the demeaning is in a greater position of power, and they know it), isn't funny. So this guy thinks I have no sense of humor, and that may be where he's drawing it from.
And I suppose also my tendency to follow the rules is part of it. (Then again, if a friend of mine said, "I think of you as the human Twilight Sparkle," I'd laugh and actually maybe be a little flattered).
(Oh, and then, he tried to launch into a conversation to determine if I
thought Sheldon was meant to have Asperger's Syndrome or not. Um, dude? I
took several online tests. I came up as "neurotypical," if that's what
you're getting at. Just because I'm cold to one person doesn't mean I'm
somewhere on the autism spectrum. It just means you have personality
traits that rub me the wrong way).
But....to compare me to a smug, nasty, compulsive person who can't even give up his damn seat on the sofa when a guest is over? Not cool, dude. Not cool.
And here's the thing: I should NOT let this upset me so much....as I said, the guy is well-known as a difficult person (I am being polite here). But it does. Because maybe I'm afraid there is some of a grain of truth in it - I am a rule-follower (though I don't make up crazy senseless rules and insist others follow them), I can be a little inflexible (but I'm a lot better than I was), I'm not always good at recognizing teasing as something other than hostility aimed at me....and I, deep down, have a fear that I bore other people.
On the other hand, I recognize that this is a person who seems to enjoy using his power and position to dominate others.
I'm always like that, though. I probably give too much credence to the opinion of people who are probably not deserving of that credence. (That's why I have such a hard time with the nasty faculty-evaluation comments, when I get them.)
So, I don't know. My snapping a bit at the woman who was good-naturedly bugging me over not having baby pictures to show just made me feel worse about it.
(And of course, in true espirit d'escalier fashion, as I was walking out to my car, I thought of the perfect rejoinder: "Oh, that's okay. I kind of think of you as the non-genius Wolowitz." (I really, really dislike Wolowitz, at least as much as I've seen of him on the show). And at any rate, even if I HAD thought of it in time, I could not have said it. Because one does not insult one's higher-ups, even if those higher-ups are apparently permitted to insult one. (No, it's not worth going to HR over. And I suspect there's something funny going on, that SOMEone knows where some bodies are buried, which is why SOMEone gets to keep saying stuff without any kind of retribution. I think we all know people like that).
(Also, I will note, as we were leaving - this was the campus nurse's office - a student who was clearly ill left before us and he made a big stink about having to touch the same door handle that she did. In fact, he asked the nurse to do it for him and she did. (I would have flatly refused, if he had asked me.) That seems a more Sheldonish behavior to me....I would have just gone ahead and grabbed the handle and just made a mental note to wash my hands when I got home.)