Every time I rant about people’s misconceptions and wrong impressions of me, I get the “you should be more open then” response.
My reaction is that of defiance. “Why the hell should I be more open? Why shouldn’t people be more open-minded about others and extend them the benefit of the doubt? Isn’t that an essential part of co-esixtance? It’s not my fault they chose to see what they wanted to see and jump to conclusions so quickly.”
I have an issue with it, because it’s been done repeatedly and I am getting sick and tired of it. And I wish they kept it as a false conclusion and left me in peace. I wouldn’t really care then. What irks me is that they act on those perceptions and for a very long time I remain confused as to what the motive of those actions were.
It boggles my mind that people don’t understand this: being open with people right off the bat feels like inviting complete strangers to my home.
It’s not about trust issues, it’s not about insecurity, it’s not about being boring, uptight, playing hard to get, or thinking that no one’s good enough for me. It’s about boundaries and privacy. It’s about the proper steps of getting to know someone. It’s amazing how one thing can be misconstrued and twisted.
I meet most people with a kind of formality and I always extend civility and respect. Then, with time, I gauge and see what the person is like and how much closer and informal I would like to become with them, and I adjust my attitude accordingly. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
I often wonder if my politeness makes people think that I am ready to forge a soul-to-soul kind of relationship. A situation of giving wrong (or commonly misunderstood) signs, perhaps.
In the case where I am truly interested in building a relationship with someone, I take the initiative in establishing contact. I become involved in their life and I pay attention to the little details. It becomes OBVIOUS that I am reaching out. I open the door. (I open a blog ;] ) Politeness and civility should be extended to everyone regardless of the nature of our interactions, in my opinion. An outdated thought, it seems.
But whenever I give this response, I am answered with: “Well, everybody does that.” Then what the hell am I doing wrong here?!?!
A rhetorical question. It wasn’t rhetorical before, there was a time where I truly wanted to understand what was going on and every time I ask I get blamed for this and asked to change my behavior. Now, I really don’t care. I won’t change. I’ve observed what I do for a long time and I’ve never been mean to someone, perhaps I haven’t been very sweet either, but never in my entire life have I ever outright disrespected someone or denigrated them.
My life and myself are not on display ready for everyone’s viewing, and I will never overlook the fact that because of how I build my relationships with others I’ve managed to meet some great people and was able to foster great friendships that stood the test of time. It’s not something I am ready to apologize for or give up on so that a passerby could satiate a momentary curiosity.
(People’s perceptions and their own injected bias are also one of the reasons I don’t listen to given advice very often. But that’s another topic, for another post.)