Apparently everyone in my class hates me.
September 14, 2009 6:14 AM   Subscribe

Apparently I am very disliked by the majority of my class. This was only just revealed to me, and has upset me very much. What do I do?

I called up a classmate today, after a couple months, just to say hello. Classes are mostly finished, so I am hardly in school anymore, and concentrate on work. This classmate, a female, has unfortunately been the topic of a few anonymous questions here, because we were in a relationship before, it went downhill. In fact, this is it (am I allowed to do this?).

So anyway, she told me that people have approached her and asked her how come she and I hardly ever talk anymore, and we seem awkward around each other etc. During these conversations, these classmates revealed to her that I always appear very stuck up, as if I am smarter and better than everyone else, as if "people should bow down before me", and a few other choice descriptions, all along the same lines.

I have, however, anecdotaly(sp?) pieced together the fact that not everyone likes me a whole lot in class. I don't drink a whole lot, and when I do I drink beer, whereas everyone else drinks Johnny Walker (this has actually been a point of contention once, believe it or not), I don't really enjoy clubbing (everyone in this country practically does), I am often shy and don't talk very much sometimes. I do take my grad degree very very seriously, in fact I'm almost a straight A student except for 1 course, and I often am at the top or very near the top of the class. I concede I have a very dry, sarcastic sense of humour, and I have managed to put my foot in my mouth a few times. But everyone makes mistakes and I always apologize if I ever offend anyone.

People have told me that I am too serious, and I get along much better with people older than I am. At work, where I'm an intern, I get along exceptionally well with everyone, I work hard, I'm shy but I still engage people from time to time, and have even connected very well with 2 people there, both women and in their 40's, so we get along very well. I also come from a different country from the one I'm living in, and got a great job here and do well at school.

The administrative staff at the school, guards, receptionists, support staff, I all get along with very well and often go out of my way to visit them for a short while whenever I do go to campus.

It really upset me today when she told me this. She told me before that I do appear to be stuck up, and I should work on it. After I completely cut her out of my life (which I finally did and dont regret it, thanks for the advice guys!), she got to agree with everyone else about how selfish I am. She said she prays for me, I don't know everything, and I have a lot to learn from everyone else, and I should change my attitude and behaviour.

I have spent 2 years in school with these people, and I have made mistakes, but everyone does. I come from a very humble (VERY humble) background, and I am doing phenomenally well all things considered. While I do realize I have a great job and education, I do not treat people badly. These people from class, who I make efforts to hang out with just because I don't have many other people to hang out with, all hate, or rather, really dislike me and think I'm stuck up etc. It is really upsetting. I have never done anything to hurt them deliberately, and always apologize if I make a mistake.

My group members and I get along very well though. When I pointed this out to the person I had the conversation with, she said they could just be acting along to benefit from my participation as I usually do very well. Is this true? I tried calling one of them, who is another woman who is older and more mature to ask her just now, but couldn't get on to her.

I am not sure what it is I am asking. I always thought I was an okay person, but if 20+ people dislike me, then I am obviously doing something wrong right? How do I change this? At work and everyone else at school I get along great. I go out of my way to help people. It was really upsetting to hear what these people think of me. Can I all attribute it to competitive MBA classmates? I have no idea.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: Consider the source.
posted by timeo danaos at 6:19 AM on September 14, 2009 [41 favorites]


Wow, someone you broke up with told you that NOBODY likes you? That people who do seem to like you are just pretending they do? This sounds more like high school than graduate school.
posted by availablelight at 6:21 AM on September 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


PS She knew you're insecure enough to buy into this, and that it would get under your skin, and that's why she said it, I'll bet.
posted by availablelight at 6:23 AM on September 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Don't believe anything a bitter ex-lover tells you. Also, it doesn't matter if your classmates like you or not. You don't have to hang out with them when school is over, and you don't have to trust their judgement either. How about friends? Do you have friends away from these people? Tell us about them.
posted by b33j at 6:23 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Best answer: She has an agenda here, remember. You guys broke up, she's upset, so hurting you is a (normal, if unpleasant) response. So take what she's saying in the same way you'd take anything else someone says to hurt you -- there may be truth in it, but also exaggerations and distortions.

So sure, if you are crossing both national and class barriers to go to school, you probably got some things wrong here and there. Maybe you even got them wrong enough to leave everyone happy to see your back. Who cares, as long as you don't do the same thing this year, and next year, and the year after that? And like you say, you got on well with your group members, so it would seem clear that you weren't exactly a total pariah.

All that said, this:

I have a very dry, sarcastic sense of humour, and I have managed to put my foot in my mouth a few times. But everyone makes mistakes and I always apologize if I ever offend anyone.

makes me think that you can probably a big pain in the ass to be around sometimes. Dry and sarcastic is funny sometimes, but a lot more often it's annoying and obviously self-protective. Much better to be genuinely self-confident in a way that isn't grating and attacking. And while yes, everyone makes mistakes, not everyone has to spend much time apologizing for their behavior. If that's even slightly frequent (as in, more than once every few years), you are doing it wrong. People who say and do hurtful things (whatever those things are, in your particular environment) aren't enjoyable to be around, and apologizing doesn't actual fully make up for the hurtfulness.

So I'd tone down the defensiveness and the sarcasm that it generates, in exchange for being genuinely nice to be around. I'd guess you are probably 80% of the way there, but that last 20% can get you into real trouble.
posted by Forktine at 6:25 AM on September 14, 2009


Wait...you hang out with these people, and they haven't treated you in a way that made you feel they dislike you until someone with whom you've had a rocky relationship told you they dislike you?

First of all, I don't think it's probably true. Secondly, you can never know what people think of you in their heart of hearts, nor (in my opinion) should you be overly worried about it. If people treat you well, and you treat them well, that's as much as any of us can hope for.

I know that these days, in a world of "keeping it real," which almost always translates into "being rude because it's somehow more "honest" than being polite, we tend to concern ourselves with how people really think about us, but I think it's a hundred times more important to be decent to one another outwardly than concern ourselves with what people are thinking internally.

If you think you may have wronged the people in your class by acting in a way that's hurtful to them, that's one thing, and could be addressed. If you're worried that they hang out with you, participate in social events with you, and are decent acquantainces with whom you spend some limited time, but they don't like you as much as you'd like, I'd say just let go of that worry. Nobody is universally liked by everybody, and the people who try to achieve that give themselves ulcers.
posted by xingcat at 6:28 AM on September 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maybe you just don't go along with the culture very well. You can stick out for things that may be completely normal where you come from that are unusual where you are. And being smart can backfire. People can be jealous of the fact that you get straight A's and are at the top of your class, etc. And being shy can be misinterpreted as you thinking that you're too good for them.

But this is really one of these things that's hard to tell without any real samples of your interactions with others. It is entirely possible that you are making other people feel put down without knowing it. For example, you say you go out of your way to help these people, maybe they feel that you're using it as a way to show off. Do people ask you for help, or do you just provide it unsolicited? Do you correct people when you're talking to them?

Although, your source seems likely to be somewhat biased given your relationship to her. In fact, I am curious why you even contacted her at all, especially after you were looking for ways to keep her from contacting you.
posted by that girl at 6:31 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Best answer: I'm not sure what you're asking either, but if it makes you feel any better, I think I've had this problem in my life as well. People used to tell me all the time that I was too serious, that I was "annoying," etc., and I always got along better with those who were a couple of years older than I was.

I honestly don't feel like I've changed all that much, though I do credit my husband with helping me develop and expand my sense of humor in the intervening years, as he's a really funny guy and I think I picked up on some of that along the way.

College is a few years behind me now, and I'm working in your generic office environment. Some people still insist on acting like teenagers, but most people are generally very friendly and come from a wider range of backgrounds, and the age range is much wider as well. Now, I don't seem to have those problems at all. Everyone is friendly, we have fun conversations and go out and have a drink from time to time, and we work well together.

I'm not sure whether I grew up in the intervening time, or everyone else did (most likely a bit of both), but this is probably something that time will do wonders to fix, both as a matter of people learning to be a little more mature and accepting of other peoples' differences, and of you adjusting to the culture of your peers and growing as a person as well.

Admittedly, you do have to examine your own actions and see if those who apparently have this opinion of you are justified--but that's something only you can do. Granted, as someone that you're not on great footing with told you this, you can only take its value with a grain of salt, but I don't think this is the first time someone's said something like this to you. It can be hard to look at yourself with a critical outsider's eye, but maybe if you can examine why you acted that way, you can work to change it. I know that a lot of my actions that people found stuck-up and annoying were manifestations of insecurity, so maybe that's somewhere to begin?

I know that feeling like you're the least-liked person in the room (even metaphorically) is a terrible thing, so best of luck in working it all out.
posted by miratime at 6:33 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It could just be cultural differences, but it could also be something about yourself that is causing this.

Even though she might have said these things to be mean and hurtful, they still came from somewhere.

Maybe it isn't your intent, but I did get the impression from your post that you do in fact give the arreapance that you think you are better than most. And that you couch it with false humility to try to "fool" them into liking you.

Hint- nobody likes sarcasm. It can be funny in small doses, but remember that sarcastic comments always have a victim.
posted by gjc at 6:35 AM on September 14, 2009


You're not doing anything wrong. The girl who is trying to cause problems between you and the group is doing something wrong, however. She's being what we call a "bitch".

How do these people behave around you? Do they seem to like you? Go with that. Ignore what your ex is saying.
posted by Solomon at 6:39 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that you should definitely consider the source, and not take this too seriously.

That being said, and it's a constant effort for me to follow this advice, but I think that there's a ton of value in working to just keep your mouth shut sometimes. I think that many/most self described smart people need to stay mindful of all the times that the right answer doesn't matter. When it's better just to let it ride. I don't know if this is one of your issues, but I think that it can be a really important social skill.
posted by mercredi at 6:39 AM on September 14, 2009


From my experience, everyone has something about their personality that could cause conflict. I'm sure within your class, there is someone who talks too much, someone who's too nice, someone who flaunts their money just a little too much, someone who parties too much...you get the picture. However, everyone also has redeeming qualities.

So, hypothetically speaking, suppose your classmates do find you a bit reserved and maybe a bit hard to talk with. It sounds like you've connected with at least some of them. So, for them, your qualities made it worth their time to understand you. I'm not sure if I'm making much sense, but my points are: a) you might have the tendency to be a bit reserved (nothing wrong with that); b) you seem to have made an effort to connect with your classmates; c) it sounds like you made some friends (or at least friendly acquaintances); so, d) your ex was merely exaggerating how you are perceived by the class.

About the person not sitting next to you in the cafe--I wouldn't let it worry you. Some days people just want a bit of space.
posted by brambory at 6:58 AM on September 14, 2009


This is why DTMFA was good advice before. Forget it, ignore it, and go on with your life as before.
posted by rokusan at 7:00 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


The advice you got in that previous AskMe seems at least as useful as the advice you're getting here.

That was in March, and the commenters were unanimous that you should stop interacting with this person.

Back in that previous thread, one person referred to two earlier threads where the same issues kept coming up. (To be clear, this is a total of at least four threads on the same theme -- some anonymous, some not.)

Three commenters used the word "addicted" -- as in, "addicted to the drama of the situation."

Again, this was back in March, and people were advising you to cut yourself off from a relationship that was already over. I think you should listen to the advice you're getting.
posted by jejune at 7:06 AM on September 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


availablelight: This sounds more like high school than graduate school.

There's a Facebook group called "Dear Grad School: High School Called, They Want Their Drama Back"

To the OP: let's say, hypothetically, that all your classmates dislike you. (I'm ignoring the question of whether your ex is telling the truth.) Does it matter? It sounds like you're generally likable, and so the problem is with them, not you. So I'd only worry if you have to spend lots of time around these people, and you don't.

That being said, I know it sucks to have people not like you. But the great thing about there being lots of people in the world is that usually you can arrange to not have to deal with those people.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:20 AM on September 14, 2009


Best answer: It's really, really hurtful to hear stuff like that, which is why people do it when they're angry and hurt.

Assess your own behavior. Maybe you could be kinder, a better listener, better at keeping in touch with friends. Change your behavior accordingly. Then, move on.
posted by theora55 at 7:24 AM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Best answer: nth-ing consider the source. Yes, your close circle of friends may be an echo chamber, but your crazy ex is definitely your crazy ex.

Also nth-ing that quiet + sarcastic can be read as stuck-up. I doubt it's as bad as crazy ex wants you to think, but it might be something to work on. You probably can't change the opinions of people who've already known you for a significant period of time, but if you're concerned, you can work on being a bit less reserved or a bit less sarcastic around everybody. The sarcasm's probably easier to reign in than the shyness, so maybe start with that?
posted by Alterscape at 7:34 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always say that none of my friends actually LIKES me-- like a train wreck, I'm too awful to watch and too fascinating to turn away. This works for me. YMMV.

(Sorry for the flippant answer, but really, you can't be responsible for how other people either think of you, or report to third parties their feelings for you--that's called gossip and is proscribed in most major religions.) You're pretty sure you're a good person, you're aware of and working on your faults. Go with that.
posted by nax at 7:34 AM on September 14, 2009


You know, sometimes you just draw a bad bunch of people to be around in a particular class. (My friend in grad school would relate to your post. And I totally laughed at that Facebook group name.) Maybe that's the case here. It's not like you plan on being bosom pals with any of these folks after graduation, right? Worst case situation you've got what, a year or two left with these people?
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:35 AM on September 14, 2009


but if 20+ people dislike me, then I am obviously doing something wrong right?

Or you could be the victim of some sort of Judy Blume novel clique mentality where the loudest people in the group decided they don't like you, and others thought, "I always thought he's an okay guy, but hmmm, Popular Sue is usually right about people." Or your ex is just a vindictive jerkass.

Or maybe all of these things are somewhat true, and the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Continue talking to the people you're friendly with, both locally and from back home. They're your friends because they see some good in you; outside of middle school and Survivor there is rarely any incentive to get all buddy-buddy with someone you can't stand. Ask them for their insight - not just on "Ex is being an ass and is way off base, right?" but also "it's got me thinking, is there anything I can improve on so I don't rub people the wrong way?" If they are your friends, and if you don't phrase it all "WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME," they'll probably have some constructive advice.

And there might be something you can work on. You're not an irredeemable heel. It's probably more like you're a likeable guy once you open up a bit, but your reticence combined with your tendency towards sarcasm make you seem unapproachably cold and spiky, like a hedgehog.

Finally, there are some places/groups of people in which you just won't be very popular however hard you try. But there are also places and groups of people in which you'll be well liked. Sometimes just the situation, and not anything you do, is the difference. If these guys still don't like you despite your best efforts, it's a sucky feeling, but their opinions aren't representative of the world at large, and you will eventually leave them and find new guys who like you.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:43 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


My graduate program is really small and has had similar drama. It's a long story so I won't bore you, but the essence is that a girl in my program experienced exactly what you are experiencing. I had no idea everyone hated her (and by extension me because I still talked with her and occasionally hung out) until another friend in the program mentioned it to me. And there was nothing wrong with her- she was nice, intelligent, and a little snarky. She just didn't think and act the way the rest of the group did. In the end, I stopped hanging out with most of the other graduate students in my program because they were mean and catty. Feel proud of your accomplishments and don't waste your time on mean people. As a result of this experience I learned an important lesson that helped me a lot: Not everyone in this world is going to like you and that's ok. You don't have to like everyone either.

I need to join that Facebook group because, seriously, grad school is much, much worse than high school in this regard.
posted by Mouse Army at 7:52 AM on September 14, 2009


I'm going to guess that you are in the sciences.

So let's look at this in an evidentiary manner.

Actual facts to support the statement that your classmates as a whole dislike you: A woman you dated who was cheating on her husband with you and with whom you broke up has told you no one in your class likes you and supported it with a whole bunch of unconfirmable hearsay statements.

A friend you called up said he does not think it is true.

You only know about two people's feelings about you in the entire class. One likes you and the other really, really, really likes you and is upset that you decided not to continue to cheat with her.

These are the actual facts you have in front of you.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:56 AM on September 14, 2009


It sounds like the worst-case scenario is that you could use a change of scenery.

Do yourself a favor. Don't start with the premise that people don't like you, and then build a case in your head for it. Then, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If someone doesn't sit with you in the cafeteria, maybe they just want to eat alone. Perhaps that person is in a bad mood. Either way, if you can interpret a situation in multiple ways, always choose to interpret it in the way that makes you feel the least crappy.

I think it's been proven that this is mostly in your head, and you need to gather the strength to deny the allegation that people don't like you.
posted by Citrus at 8:04 AM on September 14, 2009


This may be way off, but how often do you mention your "humble background," etc.?

I wouldn't believe students in higher education would openly criticize a serious student. Frankly, that's absurd. You may need to examine how often you telegraph your superiority—not because of your studies, but because of your life, your family, how you so amazingly transcended every poverty and thus deserve accolades not just in school, but in existence itself.

It sucks you were told this. But realize, please, that the only thing more infuriating than the anemia of ambition in your detractors is the fealty you seem to command from them, simply because, perhaps, they come from less humble households.
posted by trotter at 8:20 AM on September 14, 2009


Still, this has been magnified 2x -- once by her slanted interpretation of things, and twice by your own insecurity. It's most likely nothing, or next to nothing.
posted by hermitosis at 9:10 AM on September 14, 2009


Your so-called friends were mad at you for not drinking what they are drinking...? Whoa!

You sound like a smart guy who has a good future--ditch the losers! Make sure you spend time with people you admire! Water seeks it's own level.
posted by naplesyellow at 9:12 AM on September 14, 2009


I missed your additional comment, althanis--don't be apologetic about not wanting to associate with a batch of hard drinkers. College "fun" exacts a heavy toll.
posted by naplesyellow at 9:16 AM on September 14, 2009


It really upset me today when she told me this. She told me before that I do appear to be stuck up, and I should work on it. After I completely cut her out of my life

Wait, these two things don't go together. Cut. Her. Out. Of. Your. Life.

Cut her out of your life.

Completely.

She is toxic.
posted by kathrineg at 9:33 AM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to guess that you are in the sciences.

He said in the question that this was an MBA program.

I don't have direct experience with it, but I have heard from friends who have been in graduate business programs that the group dynamic can be very ...uh, mind-fucky. Type A, competitive hard-drinking people can be callous and you should take anything personal with a grain of salt.
posted by kittyprecious at 10:13 AM on September 14, 2009


I agree with everything above about considering the source, etc.

BUT: you are confusing the professionalism of the paid staff at your school and employees at your internship with friendship. People in the working world may spend the majority of their time plotting the downfall and destruction of a colleague and still smile and greet them warmly. To be less than courteous and respectful is, well, unprofessional.

That said, find out from someone you trust in your school cohort how you are perceived and what you might change.

Finally, grow up a little--people just won't like you in the world. Not for any rational reason, not for anything you do or don't do. Not for what you drink or don't. Just because. They make up reasons and rationales, but it's ultimately an emotional non-rational decision whether someone like you (or not).
posted by OlderThanTOS at 10:19 AM on September 14, 2009


I had something similar in college, but it was with roommates. One of them turned the other three roommates against me by making up a few mean things I had supposedly said. Since I am naturally sarcastic and blunt, these things sounded plausible, and my roommates told me over the summer that they didn't want to live with me anymore. It was a huge dent to my confidence.

It was hell going back the next semester, having to face them all in classes, but I made a new batch of friends, got a great house, and managed to rise above it. Meanwhile, my former roommates found out gradually that the mean girl was actually batshit crazy herself; they apologized to me and we rebuilt the friendship.

All of which is to say: Don't believe what someone else is saying about you, especially if that is your batshit crazy ex, who knows all your weak spots and exactly how to rile you up.
posted by vickyverky at 10:32 AM on September 14, 2009


There are environments (high school being the notorious one, but anywhere there are a lot of insecure extroverts will do) where "fitting in" is a full-time job. And if you aren't willing to make sacrifices in order to fit in or be popular, sometimes big sacrifices like getting stupid-drunk or having lots of sex, people feel like you don't like them (because if you liked them, of course you would want them to like you, and so you would do whatever was necessary).

On a self-improvement note, something that was difficult for me to learn is that things that are easy to me are not always easy to other people. So I had to really put in effort to figure out which words count as "big words" and what ideas aren't going to be in common knowledge. It's had a good pay-off for me, because it helps put people at ease around me and helps me communicate in a way that people can understand. So there are little changes like that that aren't a value sacrifice, if you find yourself encountering this sort of problem elsewhere.
posted by Lady Li at 12:06 PM on September 14, 2009


That woman is just trying to hurt you. If you were the stuck-up, cold, sarcastic person who no one likes, would she have gone out with you in the first place? I rather doubt it.
posted by x46 at 12:07 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I read through you chain of anon questions that started with the one you mention here.

In all seriousness, stop calling any girl or woman that you have ever or could ever be in a bad relationship with. Put the phone down. Leave it alone. For real. You can't resist the temptation to call or answer the calls of these women that use you for their own dramatic entertainment. Screen all of your calls and only respond to ones that are not from these women. And for the love of god, stop calling these women who want to either string you along or tear you down.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:47 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Everything about this that comes from her, safely ignore.

Everything about this that comes from you feeling like you're hanging out with people who are different from you, go hang out with different people.

honestly, if you feel like you have to get drunk and pass out on a bus to be liked, you're really spending time with the wrong people
posted by davejay at 1:10 PM on September 14, 2009


Oh, and "stuck up" is what immature people call mature people. :)
posted by davejay at 1:11 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


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