Today it hit me. I have come so far from where I was as recent as two years ago.
When I started my grad school program for the second time around, there was this girl there. Initially, I didn’t really talk to her. Once I realized she was in both of my classes I started talking to her a little bit. We said hello and sat near each other. I introduced her to other people I had met in the program. We talked about how we ended up there. It was good. Then little by little she began making little comments about me. She was quick to point out the fact that I wasn’t working so I had more time to study and that’s why I was more prepared for tests.
Now, the old me would’ve made a snide remark back at her. When it came to verbal assaults I would always give as good as I got. Sure in my head I was thinking, “Wow, I have a hater” but I didn’t say anything. I gave the benefit of the doubt. Eventually she began working my nerves. I would be taking notes and before I had time to finish processing my thought and writing it out, she was leaning over to ask “what did she say?” This was extremely annoying to me and I’m sure it showed on my face because what I think tends to show up all over my face.
By this point the old me would’ve said, “I can’t stand her. I’m done with her.” I would’ve found ways to avoid talking to her unless I had to. However, I didn’t. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and I’m glad I did. Today I hung out with her and another classmate of mine and we all just talked about our lives and the classes. I got to know her better and realized I actually like her. We have a lot of things in common. I decided to chalk the snarky comments up to jealousy or envy for whatever reason or a crappy day and move past it. It’s funny because there are actually a lot of people I associate with now that I would’ve never given the time of day when I was an undergrad. I’m amazed. If you knew me when, you would probably be amazed too.
You see, I’ve always been a bit of a social misfit. I’m not a sociable person by nature and I have to work at it. I’ve never been the person to go up and randomly talk to a perfect stranger. Well unless I was drunk or I was dared to by a friend. Okay hilarious off topic side story: This one time as an undergrad I was at the grocery store with a friend. It was hot as it always was where we went to school. It was nice and cool in the store though. So, we’re going around picking up stuff and all of a sudden we spot this guy in his forties probably and he’s walking around with his shirt pulled up above his huge belly. My friend commented first saying, “That’s just wrong.” I reply by saying, “I know it’s hot but it’s not that hot!” Then she says, “You should go and tell him to put his shirt down.” The next thing I knew I’m walking past him and I say, “Put your shirt down.” To this day I can’t believe I did that. I’m not usually that bold. Ever. Later we saw him in the check out line and his shirt was pulled down over his enormous belly. Check and mate. My friend and I laughed for days about that.
Okay back to the topic at hand: My unsociable behavior started to change the first time I went to graduate school. It was the beginning of a better, kinder, gentler Natasha. I’m glad I made this change and took a step outside of my introverted self because it paid off. I’ve made friendships and connections with people who have lasted for years. I have learned how not to dwell on other people’s opinions of me. I have learned to take people at face value but also give them a chance to prove who they really are. Everyone has bad days. I am the queen of them. It doesn’t mean they should be judged by them. So that person that you find incredibly annoying…give them a chance. You may find you have more in common with them than you think.