Hello, all. Six months ago, I was hired to work in an office setting with a heavy focus on *gasp* people: coworkers and customers. It’s my first time to be in such an environment. It took me 2 years and about a hundred job interviews along with the persistence to get to that point.
A fair warning in advance—this is a long read, and I’m not this talkative in real life
I’m the quiet person at the office along with being a cocktail mix of introversion, shyness, and social anxiety, which has led to many an awkward situation. I have poor social skills—my personality needs work. Plus, I’m overly sensitive, I need to learn how to grow a thicker skin.
The general consensus about me is that I’m a dork. Fake. I live in a bubble—and, that I’m arrogant.
There are 2 items I’d like to address as hinted by the topic title:
* On being arrogant
* On being a womanizer
I’ve read from other’s experiences that their quirks (like mine listed above) has given off the impression that they come across as stuck up. On a high horse. I’ve found myself in this same situation.
My work space (desk) is an open space along with everyone else, but we are divided by rooms based on our specialty, so no partitions which are typical of cubicles.
When I started, I’d smile as my co-workers passed by my desk as a courtesy. Not knowing proper social norms and reading cues, I put them off. In response, they’d hold a folder up to their face to cover it and avoid this exchange. I observed my colleagues in my immediate work area and noticed that they didn’t engage with them unless they were spoken to and just kept at their computers plugging away. I mimicked this to the dismay of the passersby. They felt like I was ignoring them on purpose. This left me confused on how to behave properly, which probably fed into the belief of me being fakey and arrogant.
At times, I also have trouble initiating an exchange when passing by or when someone comes in passing by me, although I’ve been getting better at it. If there is eye contact, I smile or utter a greeting, if not, I perceive them as being busy and not wanting to disturb them. My not reaching out to others, and having others reach out to me, has my co-workers also believing that I’m high maintenance. Again, arrogant. It should be my responsibility to initiate this exchanges, despite how I am—especially since I’m a newer employee, right? All of these sensory inputs and what is expected of me has left me baffled and unsure what to do. I simply keep moving forward but reflect.
As I mentioned, I’m quiet and stay at my desk doing my work. I should note that I keep my jacket on and have only ever taken it off when it was a really, hot day. In contrast, a more outgoing co-worker takes the time to go desk to desk and chat people up and make them feel good about themselves. In essence, I’m viewed as living in a bubble. To add to this, I was hired on at the same time with another colleague. This colleague is also outgoing and reaches out to their co-workers, doing things like offering fist pumps when they pass by their desk. I’ve heard management compare us, calling my colleague a team player by being more involved with others. They were even promoted after only 4 months of starting, I’m happy for them.
I’m not great at small talk. This is because I don’t know what to say, and probably due to lack of experience. Around my work area, my co-workers would talk, and I’d tend to listen. Sometimes, I’d reference a previous topic they discussed if I have a conversation with them. One of them would always know the best thing to say at each of these exchanges. I have gotten myself more involved by chiming in every once in awhile, but it’s not enough. I know my workplace wants someone that is more outgoing and enthusiastic.
I ask questions. Always do. I never pretend that I know something that I do not. Committing errors in my line of work is frowned upon, especially if it could have been prevented. I ask the more senior colleagues in my work space, and even have a day at the end of the work week, set aside specifically for this to have a one-on-one session. Yet, I’m still viewed as being on a high horse?
To make matters worse, when I’m caught up, I offer to help, which backfires on me because it makes me look like I think I’m superior.
Our office does a potluck whenever someone transfers to another department or leaves to pursue new ventures. Not knowing any better, the items I brought to each potluck caught the attention (without intending to do so) of my co-workers as being over-the-top. The office manager has complemented me on it each time, although this is not my intention. I just wanted to do something nice for them. A co-worker, whom I’ll dub the Potluck Police, pulled me aside and explained how things are supposed to work. They explained that everyone else does not spend that much and just purchase items from Walmart. That I should follow in line, which I did. But after that, I brought a food item that was not expensive, but looked as if, I spent some time in the kitchen preparing. This upset the office, which I conclude made them look bad and feeds into the idea I’m arrogant? This triggered them, which resorted to them calling me all sorts of labels like basement dweller. A phony. To add to this, I do not eat at the potluck, despite bringing food. Someone noticed this and questioned me about it. This someone being the Potluck Police. In my defense, I said I was on a diet.
I have a preference for eating alone. I had a traumatic experience during my high school years and spent my lunches eating by myself in the restroom or locker room. Since then, I rarely ate with others, only with those whom I’ve known for many years and feel comfortable doing so. I’m not comfortable making mention of this, which only makes me come across as being above others.
I did eventually cave in to eating at the potluck, due to social pressure from the Potluck Police. They asked me about it throughout our latest one. They didn’t see me eat, but I had to prove it by showing my trash bin. 1984 in 2019, anyone?
Throughout my life, I’ve been shy. When I find someone to be attractive, I tend to avoid eye contact or look at them. When I worked at the office, I decided to try something different and do the opposite.
When I was hired, I was shown the layout of the building going from department to department. When I arrived in a particular unit, someone caught my eye so much that I did a double take. Since that time, whenever I came across them, I’d look but not be creepy about it. The person picked up on it. We rarely if ever made eye contact. Our only exchanges were sorries when we get in each other’s way or a single point of contact when they asked if I had a file under my name. I’ll call this person #1.
Fast forward several months later, I’m still doing the above, but another co-worker catches my attention. I do the same thing, but this one is more receptive, we actually make eye contact from time to time, but there is not really any verbal exchanges. I’ll call this person #2.
When I started out, my trainer would handle a certain task for me since I was not authorized to do it. He has since been promoted and pointed out to me co-workers in my work space who can do the same. These co-workers are busy, like super busy. I tried asking one of them, but each time, they come up with some reason or another, which prevented them from helping me. I took the hint, and asked my Supervisor on how to go about this. My Supervisor suggested I ask for help from another department and basing it on the file’s number. I did this and got help from different co-workers. One in particular told me that if I ever needed help with this, to just ask them. This saved me from having to go from person to person and stick to just the one, like before with my trainer. I’ll call this person #3. Note, I was not drawn to them from the start.
I felt bad about having #3 do this, because it felt like I was using them. After some time, I offered to help them with their tasks. At first, they said thanks, but I persisted, and they eventually caved in. This went on, and I continue to do it to this day. They even gave me some snacks to show appreciation. At some point, I found #3 to be attractive. Maybe it has to do with the psychology of being in the same space and coming across them often, which is another topic entirely?
My old habit of being severely shy came back when it came to #3. I had a hard time looking at them when they passed by my desk, or when I passed by them or their work area. They took this as me ignoring them intentionally, and they were upset by it. It got so bad that they kept making less than flattering comments about me to their colleagues. They even spent a time in silence because they were hurt. They vowed to knock me off my high horse. In response, I started to look at them and asked if they like snacks themselves. They were able to pick up that I like them, but despite this, they’re still savage to me behind my back. As a result, they’ve been stopping by my desk more often to talk about work related stuff and messaging me through the workplace instant messenger for this same reason. So, there’s more contact. When I had them do a task for me, I returned the favor when I was given snacks and did the same for them. It’s like our relationship was progressing nice and slowly, the way it should to be a lasting one. I wanted to be more serious with them, so amongst the #1, 2, and 3, as Ralph Wiggum would say: I choo-choo-choose you—but, all this would change…
I had a confrontation with #1. I stood waiting for them to finish getting something from a crate. As I did this, my attention was on a sticky note I was reading. One of their colleagues asked if I needed help or help from #1. I replied that I was waiting for #1 to finish. In response, #1 felt like I was rushing them and had an outburst at me. They told to go ahead and get what I want as they walked away. I told her sorry and felt bad, I didn’t mean to rush them. After I got what I needed, I went to where #1 went and waited for them to finish. When they came out, I said sorry again, not knowing what to do. They said no and walked away. I took this as them not wanting to be bothered, maybe even being bothered all this time by my glancing at them?
The next time I came across #1, I did not look at them. I looked at the ceiling because I did not want to bother them. I did not look at them the time after that as well. I moved on from our confrontation at the crate, but I feel as though I did not, by reacting this way? They took this personally, and felt like $#!+ about it. They took action and told everyone at the workplace that I made them feel bad and took it even further. #1 picked up on the fact that I was attracted to them and blabbed this as well, including the part about how I steal glances at them. #3 would hear about this and not feel as special.
Side note: I never chatted #1 up. Never tried to ask for their phone number. Or be flirtatious. No cat calling. I acknowledged them as being attractive in my eyes. I thought this sort of thing makes a person feel good about themselves? I had no intention of getting involved with them as there was no signs of them returning the interest. I stayed in my lane. This same approach applies to #2.
To make matters worse, #1 spread a rumor, which is a lie. The rumor is that any deed that I did for a female at the workplace was not because I was being nice, but because I was trying to get laid. This coincided with me helping #3 with their tasks, so they took advantage of this. This rumor picked up steam. #1 is well liked by everyone at the workplace, meanwhile, I’m on my own. More people stepped forward with stories of being helped from me. More people, for a lack of a better term, I tried “to bed”. It’s like, in the end, I only acknowledged or looked at my female co-workers for reasons.
On the morning of my workplace homicide, #1 and her workplace bff passed by my desk to call me out. They remarked that I’m an @$$ and that they don’t even know what to call me. They visited and spoke with #3, thus ******* any and all chances that I had with them. Throughout the day, there was laughter directed at me. I got dirty looks and comments from people. I tried my very best to maintain composure, but it appeared that I cracked and it reached the surface. My co-workers noticed that I was quieter than usual.
#2, whom I no longer made eye contact with because I was trying to be serious with #3 (don’t want to send the wrong idea), noticed my resting sad face. She remarked on this, which triggered the entire office. I became the topic of discussion for the rest of the afternoon. Hearing it all. I was taken to the woodshed. They aired out their grievances. Everyone hated me. Someone said that I needed this. To be humbled. Someone else said there were bigger issues in the world, like poverty. I’m not a nice person, I’m mean. I’m no fun. That it’s a vicious cycle to have to deal with me. Someone told #3 to stop receiving help from me.
It got to the point that even the Manager, who has their own office, stepped out to comment in a frustrated tone. That I was putting on a front. In today’s workplace, I have to work with others. They walked by my desk with another member of management to see my resting sad face. I smiled at one of them, doing my best to get through the rest of the day.
On the topic of “womanizing,” they remarked that there was something wrong with me. I’m jumping from girl to girl. I’m lonely, which I’m not, as most of us can relate to being able to validate ourselves and find things to do. When one of the newer employees passed by, I glanced at them. #3 pulled them aside and said now that I like them too, I’d help and give them snacks to get laid.
Note: I did not speak to #3 on this day. From my perspective, I felt like I was bothering them if I did not have anything work related to speak with them about, in fact, I was planning to do so in the afternoon, but then I had my character assassinated, so refrain. Through all this noise, I did learn that #3 had genuine interest in me. Sad face.
I went home that night, disillusioned. I called in sick for the day for my evening/night job. I needed to process all of this. The pain. I was severely hurt. I teared up from time to time, but did not cry a river.
I called a crisis hotline that night because I had no one to talk to. The best advice they gave was that I cannot control other people’s thoughts of me, only my reaction to it. I’ve had co-workers think that I don’t talk to them because they considered themselves ugly, which is so far from the truth. I consider our appearances a husk, and more drawn to forming a connection with a person, who they are. This tells me that it’s more about the other party’s insecurities than it is about me. I don’t hit people up because I don’t know what to do or say unless it’s work related. To avoid the awkwardness and not be a bother.
I called in sick the next day. I showed the workplace that it got to me. That I’m a weakling. I’ve been practicing being kind to myself for some time prior to this. To show myself compassion. To love myself, but after the build up and the incident, I hated myself—all over again. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I needed to be fixed. I’m not trying to play the victim here or blame anyone. It’s all on me. I need time to process everything.
I had no idea what to do. Where to go from here? Do I apologize to people?
The day after I felt terrible, but I’ve gotten better since then. My mind has cleared somewhat.
I can’t take the laughter. Dirty looks. Being perceived as a perv. It’s messing with my health and the environment has reached a point of being toxic for me. Everybody gets along there, at least from what I can tell on the surface, but not me, the quiet one? Is there any way to come back from this? I’m so ashamed to show my face there ever again. Is this hubris because I can’t go back? Using anxiety as an excuse?
The underlying message I received from all this is that I either change who I am, or if not, things will continue to persist like this or be even worse.
I work 3 jobs, and barely have any free time. The spare time I do have is spent catching up on things. So much for work-life balance. I consider my office job, my main, with the other 2 as supplemental income, but this might change. I do go to my other 2 jobs and feel so much happier. I have no issues with my co-workers there, where I work as a janitor. I do have some contact from time to time with my co-workers and can chat them up. No issues.
I’ve called in sick again today and continuing to do so. I have not returned to the office since that fateful day. If I go back, it will just keep getting worse. There was even a plan from one of the Supervisors to have all the girls stop by and visit my desk. In hindsight, I really should have just kept to myself and not looked at anyone. I feel as though I’m shooting myself in the foot because I can’t take this beating. Can’t be humbled, which feeds into the concept that I’m really arrogant. It reminds me of the subreddit roast me.
I’m viewing my time at the office as a failed experiment and seriously considering ending my employment there. To take the loss and move on. I knew that it was a huge risk to be around so many people. I saw it as an opportunity for personal growth. It hurts because I worked so hard to get the job. The benefits. Being able to take vacation leave/time off at any point. This position is perfect for those with families (which I don’t have) since work is very accommodating to anyone’s needs.
I know facing adversity helps to build character, but I’m too weak, and I don’t think I can take it anymore over there. I can’t help but think of the scene in Neon Genesis Evangelion: You mustn’t run away. You mustn’t run away, Shinji!
I’ve had a pattern of self-destructive behavior in the past by being in this situation. Having a conflict at the workplace. Not knowing how to respond to it in a healthy manner, I end up quitting and running away, which does not solve the problem, moreso, sweeping it under the rug, probably as a coping mechanism, and I fear the same is going to happen here again. Ruining my life, maybe as some sort of punishment to myself. I don’t know.
I’m doubting myself now too. I’m not too sure about me. I’m thinking that I’m really arrogant because I’m feeling butthurt over all this. That I think I’m special after all. Beyond reproach. I can take criticism. On my work. From those I’ve known for a long time. From strangers on the street. I even joke around and make fun of myself with a friend using self-deprecation and all. So, why then does this touch me on a personal level? Is it because I place so much value on the opinion of others? That I take it as being who I am? As a reframe, are the attacks, moreso, a hit on my upbringing and lack of social skills?
Am I just using my quirks as an excuse for really being the smug, arrogant ahole that they pin me as? Was I doing it on a subconscious level, not being aware of it?
A friend suggested that I apologize to everyone. To think outside of myself and consider their feelings. Is this sincerity or me trying to save face? This will be really hard for me to do, it’s got to be my ego, right? If I leave, it’s like I left something there unresolved with everyone, along with the consequences of running into them in public.
I’m already looking ahead and at how to fill the void with the free time. To read books and practice on my social skills. Research professions better suited for introverts. To study and follow my dream of breaking into the tech industry again. It’s been on-again/off-again for the last 4 years. I will rise up and become stronger from this. Is this really nothing more than a self-defense mechanism I’m putting in place to protect myself, by not facing reality head on?
I don’t feel like being around people for while. A long while.