Misunderstood

Only-Human-Christina-PerriI’m tired of being misunderstood.

That sounds so emo as I type it out, but I am so indescribably dead serious: I am freaking tired of being misunderstood. It’s exhausting to constantly have everyone around me simultaneously psychoanalyze and criticize me for character traits of mine that aren’t even accurate.

My ex-fiance used to say that I was too stoic and emotionless. I tried to explain that I’m not without emotion; actually I have very extreme, intense emotions that I keep below the surface because of their magnitude and intensity. But he wasn’t perceptive enough to see them. Sometimes I would pretend to talk in a robot voice, but instead of thinking it was funny, it would freak him out, and he would yell at me to stop because it was terrifying to him to think that he was with such an “emotionless” woman.

This week at work, I found out that I didn’t get the promotion I was approached about. The reason the hiring manager gave me over the phone was that I come off as “standoffish and holier than thou” (his exact words). He encouraged me to dwell on the meaning of the quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I explained to him that the issue is not that I care too little, but that I care too much. He asked why, then, I am perceived as being so cold.

In the past year, I have had multiple suicidal coworkers call me in the middle of the night to be talked back from the ledge. Countless depressed coworkers have pulled me into a conference room during the work day to confide in me about their ongoing divorces or cheating boyfriends. Multiple lost, disoriented, confused friends have sought my wisdom and advice in hard situations. Complete strangers tell me their entire life story on a weekly basis. This week, it happened to be one of the Cavalry officers at my brother’s wedding. Do those strike you as recurring instances that would happen in the life of someone who is perceived as cold? Fuck no.

Stop freaking labeling me as cold, heartless, standoffish, arrogant… the list goes on. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I have no emotions. Actually, the opposite is true! Think of Bruce Banner, the seemingly stoic scientist whose anger transforms him into the Hulk. “That’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.”

Think of Bella in Twilight. As portrayed by Kristen Stewart, she has a grand total of 1 facial expression. But underneath the surface, the reader is privy to a whole world of very extreme, very intense emotions ranging from single-minded infatuation to debilitating depression.

Probably my favorite is Kat in “10 Things I Hate About You.” Everyone thinks she is just a bitter, cynical, generally apathetic shrew, but in the end, we see that she had very strong, complex emotions that she protected from prying eyes behind a tough outer shell.

Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean the emotions aren’t there. And just because YOU, Mr. Hiring Manager, have been told by your politicking cronies that I am cold and standoffish doesn’t mean that the rest of the office doesn’t see me for who I really am: a tenderhearted woman who has learned to share her softer side only with those trustworthy enough not to use her vulnerability as ammunition.

Authentically Aurora

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15 thoughts on “Misunderstood

  1. That’s tough. People used to call me a flat liner, as in having no ups and downs. Mr, Spock from Star Trek. It’s actually that emotional strength, that toughness, that people are complaining about. Yes, you will be the one everyone calls at 2 AM, but if you don’t have a bit of vulnerability about you, most people will find you to be stand offish, morally superior. cold. That’s certainly been my experience, anyway.

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    • I don’t know what could be more vulnerable than everyone at the office knowing my wedding date, knowing my fiancé broke off our engagement, and watching me have emotional breakdowns at the office for months on end.

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  2. I identify with this so much. My emotions are very intense and I always keep them in check. I care too much and most people don’t understand that. Only those I really trust have seen that other side of me. I agree, people misunderstand you and think you’re cold and impersonal. Thank you for sharing this.

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  3. I so get this. I’m sorry you were talked to that way. I’m all for straight forward, but it sounds like that guy was responding out of some insecurities of his own. Eek! I always try to keep in mind (ha! though I often forget…) where the other person’s headspace is at if they have to criticize someone who they simply can’t relate to or understand on the surface. If only everyone dug deep enough and lived life with the realization that we are all so similar despite our intricacies.

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    • Thanks, Lauren. I agree that he must have been speaking out of some insecurities – he just went through his second divorce earlier this year. My mom always says, “Consider the source!” …but the comments are still no less hurtful and cutting.

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      • Truth! That makes sense. Gulp, I certainly understand that — even though logic should prevail and ease the mind, the pang of hurt sort of just has a mind of its own. Your mother knows! The right people (at the right time) will not misundertand you!

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  4. Bitter indeed. I find myself being misunderstood at work all the time. Every once in a while I try to be “jovial” with the co-workers and join in the fun. But then when I want to get work done and I get all intense and don’t talk to anyone they all think I’m being quiet and shunning them because I’m mad or something. Can’t a guy just concentrate on doing his job? And by the way, I can see how people trust and confide in you. I seem to be doing with you a lot lately. Sorry.

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  5. I can so relate to this and have been in similar situations. Sometimes people see only what they wish to see. Unfortunately, if you’re a little more quiet, then that’s also often misunderstood as coldness or being “holier-than-thou.” Kinda makes you wonder how others perceive it that way, because in reality, you’re sometimes doing them a favor by sparing them everything that’s going on inside your head.

    I’ve found that the caring too much has gotten me in trouble. So many people just don’t understand what it is to be loved or cared about due to living in a world of selfishness. When they do see it, they just can’t understand it because they’ve never known it before. Then they heap on the negative labels because, well, that’s what people do. I try not become hardened or bitter because of those labels, though. Because in the end, that will only make me like them.

    Sorry for rambling on… There are some people out there who will understand you, it just takes awhile for them to crawl out of the woodwork. Have a good one! And thank you for sharing.

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    • “Sometimes doing them a favor by sparing them everything that’s going on inside your head.” – AMEN! If only they knew the kindness of our perceived “coldness”!!! Thanks for commenting and sharing your experiences. It’s always nice to find someone who can relate.

      Liked by 1 person

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