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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Do you like me?

Someone commented to me the other day that I worry a lot about what other people think, and worrying a lot about how people are reacting to me. The person made it seem like my doing that was hugely problematic, and almost pathological.

I know I do it a lot, but I think although it drives me nuts, it's not wholly unmotivated. Here are some of my reasons for doing it:

1. I have found it hard to make connections in this city, and feel like I cannot make the close connections I had when I lived on the west coast. This causes me to wonder a lot about how I am perceived.

2. In grad school, you are being evaluated constantly - which I think could lead one to constantly worry about how one is being perceived, and thus evaluated.

3. In my field, people seem to be particularly indirect, thus you have to be almost hypervigilant in order to detect what it is that they are really saying - otherwise you miss that they actually hate your project or your work or whatever.

4. In my field too, it seems like a lot of people are just exceptionally hard to read (I guess being a blank screen comes easily to a lot of clinicians - and it's hard to not be that when one is not actively being a shrink) - and I have a hard time with people like that. I thus worry constantly about what is going on beneath the surface that is not showing in their face or demeanor.

5. A lot of people (shrinks) with whom I interact lately seem extremely judgmental. Like if I present a client to them, I am stunned by their extreme negative or judgmental reactions to my client. I thus become worried as to what judgments they make about me that they only share with others.

6. I sometimes get reactions that just baffle me. I am often left really not comprehending why I got an angry reaction to something that seemed not at all provocative of that type of reaction. Or that one day I could ask a question and get a supportive response, and the next day it would get an angry response. Some of the people around me are extremely changeable and I find myself working hard to look for predictors of differential moods and predictors of what I do that causes the negative responses.

7. I am also in a new environment, and I think it isn't unusual to watch people to see how things work, what the rules and norms are, and how to understand interactions.

Do any of you worry about this a lot?


At 9:09 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

um, do you read my blog? I do nothing but worry about this.
I'm sorry you have so many reasons to worry.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Twirly said...

Depending on the day the week the month the year I either worry so much what other's think (especially those in positions of power over me (advisors)) and then other times I'm all f'it I'm doing this no matter what....Grad school and relationships definitely make me the most insecure....

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Grad007 said...

I want everybody to like me, so I do worry intensely about negative reactions to my behaviour.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

CAme to visit you via grad007. I think graduate school has a way of heightening any of our "issues". Just know that you're not alone in your experiences.

I teach grad school and I always try to make sure my students feel understood and respected.

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think your behavior is pathological. I think it is, as you said, derived from your environment. Grad school messes with everyone, absolutely everyone.

I'm sorry your friend said what s/he said to you, and that you feel you have to be so vigilant. I'd like to say I have found some way to expend less energy being vigilant, but I'm still looking.

At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think everyone worries about this to some degree, and especially so when they are interacting with people who seem very unpredictable in their reactions (like so many of the people in your program seem to be!). It is also not unusual to be extra concerned about this when you are in a comparatively new location, I think.

I'd say you only need to worry about it if you start to read sinister things into the reactions of people you are close to who have never given you any concrete reason to be suspicious of how they perceive you. And I don't think you are doing that at all, are you?

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Breena Ronan said...

But now you are worrying about whether you are worrying too much. I do that sometimes. Maybe you should just ask people to be more direct with you or ask them to clarify when they are acting all crazy and unpredictable. Grad school culture is really weird sometimes and people aren't always emotionally mature, even professors.

At 4:28 AM, Blogger Aurelius said...

Sometimes, you have to just be.

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Dr. Lisa said...

Hee hee--breena has a very good point.

I am a bear of very little brain, shrinky, so I tend to try to avoid worrying about stuff like this, which I can only do so much about. I think women do worry about whether they are sufficiently giving, kind, nice, etc, when they are, in fac, all of the above to excess for people who do not deserve their energy. However, nobody knows if you do that...but you.

I like you! Is that good for anything?


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