I would love to think that I am the type of person who is very self-aware and self-observant, but my belief has been greatly shaken by a conversation I have had with one of my good friends yesterday. You know when a person you really value his or her opinion really gives you feedback, you really give a shit about it. The entire conversation emerged from my observation that the person does not really feel comfortable around me, especially in a professional context. I used to think that I am a type of person with good intention and means no harm, but, upon hearing my question as to why he looks very frustrated, the straight answer was: “you were patronizing me, and it really annoyed the heck out of me.”
The feedback was softened by the fact that he said it was on him to feel that way. However, after I tried digging deeper, I also found that I have a tendency to show or pretend my superiority in conversation. “Everything is always in comparison with you.” That was the exact wording from the conversation. Several clear examples he quoted were:
“I’m having such a bad day,” said, someone
“I’m pretty sure mine is worse” I replied
“I’m pretty sure I know more on …”
I know that I am quite a competitive person, but I also normally do not have ill intentions. The person who gave me feedback also knows it. “That’s why I never brought it up because I know you don’t mean anything”. However, it really got me to think very hard as to why I behave in such a way. Then it hit me…
While I keep saying that I don’t a fuck about how people or the world view me, I really deeply care about it. I care about it so much that I made a verbal effort to prove my worth to be a part of a social group. The tendency to do so is even greater in a setting where I’m not sure whether or not I’m a part of the group. The recognition for my expertise or contribution in some shapes or forms gives me comfort that I belong – although logically this is flawed.
If I were to be completely honest, my secret wish is that I wish to be completely comfortable in my own skin – the person that I am – whether depressed or happy, rich or poor, talented or incapable. There probably is a lot of peace in being such a human being.
Now as my group travel is temporarily ended, and I will have some more time with myself. I really would love to reflect and think more about how I can be myself, accept myself, and portray myself in a new environment without having to prove myself so much.
To the person who I had the conversation – you know who you are, I thank you for your honesty, and I hope to be a better friend going forward.