on being intimidating and unapproachable

This is non-education related post, but it’s a topic that’s in my head, so I feel like I need to write it out. This past weekend, a few of my friends came down from MA to visit me. We explored DC during the day, and went out to bars at night. Now I’ve gone out with these group of girls before, and usually, the night goes something like this:

My friends and I all get ready together. They pick out outfits for half an hour and go back and forth, while I usually come in wearing what I’m going to wear. I drink wine and listen to music as they get ready. We are all ready to leave – 1.5 hours later, and head out. We walk into a nightlife establishment (bar, club, lounge, etc.) We head to the bar to get a drink, for me, it’s usually a vodka tonic. We go out onto the dance floor (my friends insist on going right into the middle of the dance floor), and make a “girl dance circle”. Within 5 minutes, men start to surround said girl dance circle, standing closely behind or awkwardly ajar. Within 10 minutes, I’m wondering what happened to our “girls’ night out”. The establishment closes at 2 am, and we head home. As we cap off the night on the way home, my friends gleefully laugh about all the guys that pursued them, and how pathetic the guys are. The irony: my friends are all in relationships. I start off the night with my simple intentions, just to end up tired and disgusted by everyone around me.

But back to this weekend. The day after, we had brunch, and were again recapping the night (although there was no need to as it was drunkenly done the night before). I sat quietly and listened because I had nothing to contribute, and I was also kind of annoyed because all the talking just felt like unnecessary noise. Then out of the blue, one of my friends says, “You know LA, I don’t think you get approached much because you’re super intimidating. If I was a guy, I wouldn’t approach you.” I’ve been working on my filter, so I simply responded “mmhmm”, but deep down inside, I was boiling with rage. I refuse to believe that this is a compliment, or acceptable to say to someone. It is hurtful, and a cop out. It is judging a book by its cover.

You see, I’ve been told all my life that I am intimidating, or mysterious (which is a nicer way to put it). I’ve been told by friends that when they first met me, they were really scared of me, or thought I was “too cool” to approach. I’ve been told by strangers “such a pretty girl, smile”. I have resting bitch face. I’m not going to make any excuses for myself or who I am. I have been told I have a strong personality and am opinionated, but is that necessarily a bad thing? My friends seem pretty content with allowing me to be “the bitch” of the group, as a crutch for their own meanness, but am I really a bitch? Is being self-assured, having BS-radar, and knowing your values/likes and dislikes bitchy? When I was in middle school, I remember being so envious of the “sweet girl” – the girl who everyone thought was so nice. The sweet girl could do no wrong and all the boys loved her. But I’ve also been friends with the sweet girl, and what I’ve realized over time is that she’s really not that sweet. She has mean thoughts just like the rest of us.

When I’m walking, I am thinking. My mind goes and goes, solving problems and taking in my surroundings. The last thing on my mind is smiling. But apparently, this is unacceptable as a woman in today’s society. I must change myself for people in order to be approached. If a man was serious all the time, would it be a problem? A part of me wonders if I’ve hardened over time and have allowed myself to behave in the manner in which people expect me to.

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2 thoughts on “on being intimidating and unapproachable

  1. I’m aware my apology doesn’t add anything to the conversation but I’m sorry your friends said that to you. Telling someone they’re “intimidating” is never a compliment. It is belittling and a passive aggressive way of saying “smile b*tch and make me feel comfortable around you”. How they perceive you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their insecurities within themselves. Girls who are self-assured, confident, and don’t thrive off attention are always seen as “intimidating” because it goes against our perception of girls being smiley and “nice”. I’m a smiley person by nature but I too have been called intimidating. I hate that it comes down to a gender thing but men who behave in the same manner don’t get flack for it. It used to make me angry when people would call me “intimidating” but it doesn’t bother me anymore, lions don’t lose sleep from the opinions of sheep.

  2. Thanks, I completely agree. There are social norms, but as I get older, I just step back from situations and realize they’re not worth my time or energy, rather than getting invested. My way of thinking and opinions are just seen unconventional and strong, and I’m okay with that. Like you said, most of the time, it says a lot about the other person.

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