I'm looking for coping strategies or appropriate vents for long-repressed irritation with minor things, such as frustrating professors, unfortunate policies, more-sociable roommates, and the stuff of life. While I'm ok with impersonal set-backs and serious personal challenges, these minor interpersonal irritants seem to be driving me closer and closer to open confrontation, and I don't know how to channel it properly while retaining some measure of my natural calm and distance.
posted by reenka to Human Relations (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I'm definitely starting to have an anger problem. I mean, I don't want to call it that, but maybe that's what it is. I actually don't know what a 'normal' level of irritability is. Some (many?) of my girlfriends repress anger constantantly, but I was always 'not like that'. I mean, I repress but I don't have that much of it to start with; it's always been this minor thing. Living with loud roommates last year sensitized me a bit. On the one hand, being more upfront is good, right? Repressing not-so-good and kind of bad. But I don't want to be 'that person', that person that irritates others in turn. So what's a good level of pushing people? What things are ok to be miffed about? What do you let go and what do you insist on 'taking care of', and how do you funnel energy into that action instead of internalizing?
Example: I write a professor (a week or so ago) with a legit question about how to navigate a conflict between his first class and another that goes on at the same time. I have no guarantee of getting into either, and want to hedge my bets. I said I had different reasons for wanting to take both classes, and wondered if he was still accepting slips during the second half of the first class. Ok so I rambled, but still: no response. If I ask a question-- even if I ramble, and even if the answer is no-- I expect a professor to answer it. Irritating. Actually, quite a number of professors don't get back to me. I like them all (in theory) and think they're cool (especially some), so it's hard to get irritated. So far only one professor (that I'm particularly close to) has been 100% available to me. I'm in a small liberal arts school and we're all cool here, etc.
Then there's stuff that has no great justification like how I was a little confrontational with the bookstore student worker today. I was returning my books (to resell) and one wouldn't go through 'cause it's an old edition. Not his fault, and I get it, but I was a little more openly frustrated than usual. Is it ok? I can't tell. I think I was not the best customer, though, and could tell he was a bit put-upon.
And then there's the ongoing issue I have addressing noise issues in my dorm apartment, which drive me insane. We're in Quiet Housing, so I'm supposed to address them, but it's beyond difficult for me to tell anyone to 'quiet down' directly, and doing it after the fact seems unnecessary (I prefer the short-term reward of just keeping to myself and reading instead). The thing that bugs me is my imagining intent or precedent, which is unprovable-- like, if I think someone means to be considerate and quiet, then it's ok if they're not. The underlying thing-- the fact that what really bothers me is that people are in my home at all-- is partly why I feel bad about confronting it. If I was really honest, then there'd be no compromise, but there are good reasons for staying on campus (money, and the fact that I can barely get up on time for morning classes as it is).
On some level, I've always acted out-- I've always been very stubbornly myself with the understanding this may passively drive people away-- but usually I've repressed actual emotion or irritation (with silence). I think I was intermittently off-putting/intimidating, but since I'm quiet, plump and female, I don't think I actively irritated or even concerned most people (who didn't have to clean up after me or give me money-- read, my mom). If I start being more confrontational, it's like I'd be losing my only veil against my overall social awkwardness, and it concerns me. All I can imagine is that this is a thing I was supposed to work out in adolescence but never did, and better late than never? I don't know. But input about 'appropriate irritation' and relevant coping strategies or anything else may be helpful.
Note: I'm very good at relaxing, escaping, avoiding, and taking my mind off things, so while I'm sure meditating would help, it's not 'the answer' (pretty sure, anyway). I'm not in a financial position to try therapy, though I'm not against a Cognitive Behavioral approach. I guess this is just something I'm thinking about rather than an active problem that's severely crippling my life or social interactions. I'm actually better at socializing than I have been for years. I just want some new ideas/strategies to fertilize the field, so to speak. If it helps, I have ADD.