I wish people were more friendly. Overall.
I try to be friendly to everyone. I think about how I feel when people act a certain way to me (intentional or not) and I don’t ever want to make people feel hurt, or inferior, or unimportant; I know how hurtful and confusing it can feel. So, I try hard to make sure that in my relations with other people, I am thoughtful and considerate of how my actions might affect them. Sadly, not everyone does this. In fact, I think there is a small minority of people like me.
Far more common, are the people who are too worried about their own
insecurities impressions and self image, that they never consider how their actions make other people feel. I know I am guilty of this myself sometimes (like I mention here), but I really try hard to constantly gauge how I might be affecting someone else. Even if I don’t necessarily have the confidence or the courage to talk to someone, I will usually smile their way or briefly make eye contact with them, just to let them know that I really am friendly. I make an effort to ask people how they are doing or how their day s going, or any other question that might show that I am interested in them. I will carry on a conversation with someone, even if it doesn’t really interest me that much, because I want them to feel like what they have to say is important. These are all conscious changes that I have made in an attempt to be an effective communicator and a friendlier, more approachable individual.
Despite my efforts, I still have my own insecurities that make it difficult to interact the way I’d like with certain people. These insecurities surface most often when I feel like I have something to lose by failing in my interactions with a particular person or group of people. Such is the case with this upper year med student whom I’ve seen around quite a bit in the last few days. Most, if not all, of the upper year students are friendly and approachable and eager to pass on their tips and knowledge. I don’t know what it is about this particular person, but she seems to go out of her way to be “unfriendly.” Maybe that’s too harsh of a statement, but she doesn’t make any effort to be friendly.
I know this particular person is interested in going into obs/gyne, like I am. I know she knows that I also want to go into obs/gyne. You think this would be a “bonding point” between us (as it is between me and another girl in the upper year class). However, it’s not. In fact, I feel like that might be the reason she is so stand-offish towards me. Or, maybe that’s just her personality. We’ve interacted a few times before, but it has always been me making the effort to start the interactions. This summer we were both at an international obs/gyne conference with a few other girls from our school, and we all hung out together, went for dinner and even shared a bottle of wine. It’s not like we’ve never talked before. But it doesn’t seem to matter.
Last week I tried to start a conversation with her, asking her about where she was going for her interviews, if she had any advice on where I should gor for electives, what her goals were for the matching process, etc. She answered all my questions, but it seemed difficult for her to even take her eyes off of the game she was playing on her ipad. Half-way through the conversation I felt like just quitting: Obviously she didn’t seem interested in having a conversation with me. I tried hard to not talk about myself, and when I finished asking her questions, she didn’t keep up the conversation. Today, things were much the same. I saw her sitting in the lounge with a bunch of other people, but she didn’t say anything to me. At one point I caught her looking at me when I wasn’t looking, but she quickly looked away. We were simultaneously engaged in the same large group conversation, but I felt like she was making an effort to show that she had little interest in me or what I had to say.
It took every ounce of my being to not let her actions erode my confidence and make me feel like there is something inherently wrong or unlikable about me. Maybe she lacks confidence in herself and she needs to pull some kind of “higher rank” attitude when I’m around… to put me in my place, maybe? I don’t really get it, though. If it is the obs/gyne thing, she’s definitely not competing with me; I’m not even in her year. But I can’t really figure out why else she wouldn’t at least make some kind of effort to be more friendly.
Maybe it bugs me more because she’s been like this all the way through med school (at least whenever I’ve seen her). This aspect of her personality makes me feel a little dismal about the fact that she wants to work in the same specialty as me… and she wants to stay here for her residency, much like I do (at least I’m leaning that way, I think). If this really is what her personality is like, it makes me sad to think that staying here for residency would mean that I have to spend 4 or 5 years working closely with someone who seems to lack some basic interpersonal skills. I know the match might not go in her favor, and it might not go in my favor, but since I’m type A and I get a little anxious about things (especially those which I can’t control), it’s on my mind, nonetheless.
Deep down, though, I really wonder what it is she’s trying to accomplish by being unfriendly towards me. Is it about putting me in my place? Is it that she just doesn’t like me? Or, is it just that she lacks self-esteem and confidence (like most of us do)? I suspect it is the last of these options. However, since I am just as human as she, my lack of confidence leads me to believe that it’s all about me. (And who knows, all this worrying could be for nothing… maybe she just takes a while to warm up to people!)
Since I make such an effort to take other people’s feelings into considerations, I wish it occurred to others to do the same. I think this world would be a much friendlier place if we were all more concerned about others than we are about ourselves.