there's nothing wrong with you there's nothing wrong with you... *argh*
November 2, 2012 3:37 PM   Subscribe

I don’t get very well with a whole hobby team of 6 persons... How do I keep my sanity?

I am part of an amateur sports team. Women only. I’m the youngest (25) and the eldest is 50. And I... don’t fit the group. I’m repeating in loops “there is nothing wrong with you” but... there’s a lot of struggle in my mind about the team and my teamates. My not fitting in the group is taking too much of my brain space! I don’t manage in letting it go.
I don’t feel at ease with them : when they speak, it’s about gossips. And I find that their gossip is... harsh sometimes even mean (for example, they regulary laugh at such person who is 30 and is single and “probably never ever had a boyfriend” and all the conclusions that follow). And also : they speak a lot about people they don’t like. I very rarely have heard them talking about someone they appreciate. I find this a bit draining. They don’t laugh often, don’t come with a “hey, I have a good joke / story I can’t wait to share with you”!
Also : they’re in good terms with our trainer, who I appreciate as a teacher : he is a talented educator and verrrry patient. But we (I and him) really don’t get along well. The reasons... I don’t know them. The fact is here, we don’t go very well; apart from the technical aspects and hello / goodbye we don’t talk to each other.
Last summer we spent a whole week together, day and night, for a week-long competition. I think my resentment towards the team crystallised at that point.
For example when we went back home at night I would make myself a huge cup of tea, while trainer & teamates would drink beers / wine. I always had comments about my drinking tea at such hour / such event etc. The trainer would even roll his eyes. After a whole day training under the sun and dust, I rather wanted to drink tons of water instead of alcohol that would give me headaches. I usually translated this into a “yeah, I feel like having a breakfast at 7 pm!” with a smile.
Other thing : I read a lot. I brought a book with me, so I could read a few pages before going to sleep. I got comments on how I would bring a difficult book, etc (it was novels written by Puskin, I don’t think it was a harder read than Harry Potter for example). I never talked about books before or whatever. The person I was sharing the bedroom with saw me with this book, and she made stupids comments about this afterwards. (hm! reminds me wonderful high-school times :))
My attitude towards the team... I am quiet but present : I give a hand before I am asked to, I sometimes make comments especially on the organisation-side of the things which have been apreciated and I sometimes make jokes / funny comments (the cute ones most teamates laugh at). I know there is one person in particular who really doesn’t appreciate the fact I am quiet : she openly talked about this to the other teamates. I am not sure what to think about this!
Before I would be happy no matter what, because well I was happy to be here, practicing this sport is my passion, etc. Now I am less present, but I don’t sulk either!

I guess a solution could be leaving the team : but I know that if I leave the team I’ll be sad... I love this sport, and being part of this team is a wonderful opportunity technically speaking. There is no similar team where I live.

What’s happening with the group is not a reflect (of most) of my relationships in general : I have very good friends and belong to groups of friends in which I evolve confidently.

Instead of letting go of the fact I don’t fit the team and that it is no-big-deal, I think about this almost all the time. As if I... wanted to be part of this team. It’s poisonous!

I am currently discovering and practicing self-compassion and meditation (thanks to “There’s nothing wrong with you” by Cheri Huber and “the mindful path to self-compassion” by Christophe Germer, both books recommended here on the green) but... this team stuff is... too big for a meditation beginner! :)

Can you help me break this unhealty loop in my head? How do I let go of this whole resentment thing? How do I keep convinced that there's nothing inherently wrong with me?

Thank you in advance!
posted by OrangeCat to Human Relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
honestly it sounds like you're doing a really good job so far. just keep being nice to yourself!
posted by facetious at 3:48 PM on November 2, 2012

Do you have someone you're really close to outside the team qwho is will to listen to you as you decompress, and provide validation for your feelings? When I get stuck in sick situations like this one (and gossip, negativity, and militant conformity are a sickness) it helps me a lot to have like an anchor to the outside world who can remind me that this is just one group of people. It also helps to get a different perspective and work out coping strategies.

It sounds like, inside the group, you're dealing with this as best you can. How long have you been a member of the team and how long has the team been together without you? A lot of this sounds like stupid high school-esque "be mean to the new girl who's slightly different from us" stuff, and eventually you might become more integrated as people get used to you.
posted by muddgirl at 3:53 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

You know what? Sometimes people just don't hit it off with other people. They fall flat with them. You're too different for them, or they're too different from you. In this case, I honestly don't think they sound like very pleasant people. The part where they're constantly insulting a 30-year-old for being single-- HOW DARE YOU EXIST AND BE SINGLE AND OOOOOLD--that alone makes me want to kick them all in the crotch. They sound like they just like to trash talk, am I correct? It doesn't sound like they like you either if God forbid, you don't want to get drunk and like to read books. Heck, why should you like them? I don't know them and you've told me enough that I don't like them, and I don't think you want to be like them.

Of course you kinda feel like you want to be friends with them: you spend enough time with them on your own that they *should* be friends. And it sucks to spend tons of time with people who obviously don't seem to like you much or just tolerate your presence. So you feel like the best way to handle that would be to be "in" with them. But odds are, you probably won't be. I don't know how much time investment this sport is per week, but it is difficult to put in a lot of time with jerks and you're not even getting paid for it.

I know you say there's no other option other than this team, so you're not going to leave. Are you sure the sport is so super duper awesome that it's worth it to pay the price to hang around these people who act like jerks and don't really seem to like you and make you feel bad about yourself for not being like them?

If the answer to that is yes, then...well, I think you may just have to go into every game/practice/whatever with the attitude that these people will not be your besties. They're coworkers: you all put up with each other when you have to, and you get your friendships elsewhere. You have to start trying to detach from "I want them to be my friends!" and transition into an attitude that's more, "I am putting up with them in the way that I put up with horrible Aunt Trudy every Thanksgiving." Realize that they're not-nice people that you have to spend a lot of time with, and tolerate them. Take the emotional step back every time they say nasty things about you so that you can hear them (really, guys? you do that?). They're what they are, and putting up with them is the price that you pay to play your sport.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:23 PM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah, these people are not your friends.

Time to engage 'Bland Smile' Mode (BSM) - the next time someone crows at you ("HOMG READING!? HOMFG TEA DRINKING!?!?!") just paste the blandest smile on your face. It's the kind of smile you use with a child who's slightly too old to believe in Santa, but you don't want to shatter their illusions. And say nothing, just give them the bland smile. You're not trying to create an awkward moment where they realise their rudeness (because that's never going to happen), you're just acknowledging they've said something and now you're carrying on with your thing.

"O. M. G. BERKS!" -> bland smile.

Really, own your own tastes and life. It's okay to be different. In fact, you *have* to be. I do 90% of your things (reading, tea and water over booze, etc) and face the ZOMFG!Squad all the time.

Another mantra: be glad you're not like them!
posted by Chorus at 4:51 PM on November 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

Consider an absolutely different reason:

The entire team is not getting along with you. These are all unique individuals, but they are common in their unflattering opinion of you.

Just some feedback from a stranger :

In your post, you come across as a bit "stuffy," formal, and slightly "high brow." These qualities are usually noticed and not reacted well to in a team setting. Perhaps you should look inward and see if you can relax, loosen up, and not see them as high school students, but rather pillars of your team. Team spirit rises above individuality.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:17 PM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

The best thing about teams is that they change. A group that acts one way with certain members will act differently with changes to the group. If you truly enjoy the sport aspect of it, then concentrate on that and ignore the rest. When a new person joins - be the first to befriend them and try to build the type of team you'd enjoy being a part of.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:52 PM on November 2, 2012

You know, it's actually not her job to change herself just to make other people not behave like complete dickwads. She sounds perfectly pleasant and they sound like complete jerks. And once you start trying to bend over backwards to appease people like this, they will always find some fault with you - you will never be able to win.

OP - if you want to keep playing this sport with this team, you keep doing what you're doing and find some other outlet to decompress. But, I will suggest that this is often why people will set up their own groups/teams - something to think about if things become completely unbearable.
posted by heyjude at 6:55 PM on November 2, 2012 [9 favorites]

hmmmm...there must be an OPPOSING team somewhere reasonably nearby, no? ~^
posted by sexyrobot at 10:03 AM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I agree with Kruger5's comment to some extent, and I see it's an unpopular sentiment. That's too bad.

I'm also a bit "high brow" and have a difficult time in social situations because of it. I totally have my books made fun of. My other hobbies are even worse. I can come off as aloof and uncooperative even though I'm trying.

These days, I do turn it down a bit. I might read Harry Potter instead of a neuroscience primer when I'm on a trip. You know what? They're not half bad, and they give me small talk material. (I haven't actually read those books, but just for example.) I might sip a beer and make some easy conversation. I don't gossip, but I smile.

Because I try just a little bit, I'm so much happier and more comfortable in social situations now. I definitely didn't change myself, but I did acknowledge that my social anxiety required more effort than JUST being myself. I hope that makes sense.

Meditation and mindfulness helped me a lt too. What am I doing right now? Sitting at my own lunch table reading Tolstoy? Surrounded by the heaving masses staring at me? You know, I'll eat my lunch outside; I'm happier. How about... Now? I'm at a bar and I only see one table of people, and I don't know them well. I order a low-alcohol drink, invite myself to the group, and hope the conversation is about Harry Potter, because I read that shit. Etc.
posted by sock puppet du jour at 11:06 AM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

No human on the planet gets along with every other human he meets. So you don't mesh very well with these ladies? Well, that stinks, but it CERTAINLY doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. Make sure you spend just as much time around friends who like you and validate you; that makes it easier to remember, "I'm not a freak, I just don't have much in common with these people."
posted by hishtafel at 7:03 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you everybody for your answers!
OK, bringing a book / drinking tea instead of wine / beer may say "highbrow", but the thing is : I also love Harry Potter and I always drank beer or whatever after my cup of tea. And even with that I had those stupid comments, here's why I am starting to be really annoyed by the team.
The Bland Smile Method suggested by Chorus made me laugh, I'll remember about it next time!
posted by OrangeCat at 3:14 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

One thing I've learned from playing in an amateur sports league in the past few years is that it attracts competitive women and competitive women can sometimes get competitive with each other.

There are going to be perceived slights and ridiculous drama, there just is. Remember that the only person on the team spending as much time thinking about how you are perceived is you. Everyone else forgot about that thing that they said to you about that thing and got on with thinking about themselves.
posted by Ness at 3:56 AM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

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