How do you deal with hearing negative evaluations about yourself in public? Often I hear people I don't know make idle comments about me, mostly negative. It's Inconvenient though to look overtly pissed off, when you're not in a position to say anything back. So how do you suck it up?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
How do you deal with overhearing negative evaluations of yourself?
White female, mid twenties, working overseas, semi fluent. An Asian country, if it matters - though I suspect, it doesn't. I'm pretty sure that this could have played out the same way almost anywhere.
I ask this question because I feel absolutely miserable. I moved to the country hoping to improve on my Uni-level language skills, in a language that I was once very much in love with. A year into my oversea experience, I'm in at the most dire level of despair in my life.
The main cause of my misery is the constant assault on my ego. Wherever I go - if it involves me sitting in place for more than a few minutes, and usually when I'm alone, I seem to become the object of strangers’ unwelcome interest. Train, restaurant, standing in line at the supermarket, in a bar, wherever. I often hear peoples' idle evaluations of me. Note, that none of these are said directly to me. Comments on what I'm wearing, how I'm looking, my probable personality. Anything and everything. On foreigners in general. And then there is the usual everyday fare. Ｗｅｉｒｄ！Ugly! Man, foreigners are the worst don't you reckon. All that I thought I knew about the world - that people don't care much about others, that what you worry about is probably invisible to others, that people are generally kind and good, have gone out the window. Worse, the uneasy truce, that I’m an OK person, that although not a beauty, nobody cares much and that I have found people that care for me regardless, have crumbled under endless comments on my looks. I feel like maybe everything that people keep to themselves is now being voiced, and I just can’t take it.
I might be wrong, but honestly, I'm never doing anything in particular, apart from sitting on the train, and looking at my shoes, or talking with a friend in a restaurant. If anything, after several months in the country, I started to try and fit in as much as I can. I am acutely aware that I might be judged, so I always try to be quiet, never ever make a fuss about anything and try to pick up on any cues that I can. Young and old alike seem to be enthralled by my disgusting nature that is apparently readable from my mere countenance. I don't know how much this is a shared experience amongst foreigners in general- I'm too afraid to ask, because, frankly, I don't want to find out that I'm the only one, and well, it's wholly me that's the problem. I know though that up to a point many of my foreign friends experience being talked about, but either don't know what it is that is being said, or don't care. I seem singular in my sensitivity to it. As a side note, I have never experience anything like this in my country of origin.
Also, I know I am probably going to be dismissed as being sick, and in likelihood, I probably am quite depressed now. None of this is what I imagined it would be like. But, the things I hear definitely are real - unfortunately. I can understand the language well enough. Some people honestly, talk like they have no inhibition towards talking about someone in front of their face, probably believing that most foreigners don't understand so it is ok to just say whatever is on your mind. (I know that most people, 99.99 % are not as inconsiderate as this, and a tiny minority of people are what makes it uncomfortable for me). There are times of course, say, when I am in a busy restaurant that I can only hear, say, the pejorative term for foreigners being repeated over and over, and one or two negative adjectives thrown in the toss, but other times like today, when I had two chatty business men are sitting right next to me lamenting foreigners. I talk myself down from thinking negative thoughts, especially whenever I have any doubt about whether I have misheard, and whenever I can get away with it I listen to my iPod, so as not to hear anything in the first place. Of course though, I can't wear them all the time. Also as soon as I have the money to do so, I’m going to see a therapist.
I would like to hear mefi’s thoughts on how to deal with hearing other people’s negative evaluations of you when heard in public, and how to deal with the emotions that arise. After a while I've become a bit hardened to it, but still I find myself become extremely self-conscious, and ruminating over whether or not what they said is true or not, no matter how ridiculous. Or, how upset I am that people have lack the simple human decency not to talk about some right in front of their face, and how I feel like I am being treated as less than human. I’m almost always by myself in a situation where I can’t easily just up and leave. It’s not convenient to be pissed off or tearful, and I don’t want anyone to see that they have got to me. How do you deal with it, or what would you do?
tl;dr How do you suck it up when people say mean things about you right in front of your face? bawwwwww
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