Auntie SparkNotes: Am I Awful for Ignoring This Annoying Girl?
Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
Am I a horrible person?
There is this girl in two of my classes this year, and I can't stand her. Everything about her rubs me the wrong way. She makes me cringe daily, and I just can't handle it. She pops her pimples in class (can't believe I just wrote that, GROSS), wears ugly flip flops every day, has to argue everything in class (even when she has no evidence to back up her claims), and is so annoying.
This leads me to my problem.
Most often, when she tries to talk to me... I ignore her. Like I can't even hear what she is saying. She will try to jump into my conversations with an irrelevant statement, and I won't even acknowledge it. If I do acknowledge her, it is with curt statements, kind of aggressive. I just know that if I talk more, or open my mouth a little wider, all of my distaste for this girl will come flowing out.
I know in some aspects, maybe I am projecting some of my own insecurities onto her (not the pimple popping thing or the flip flop thing, EW), but I guess I am afraid that the way I see her is the way everyone sees me. Annoying. But even if I can slightly sympathize with this cringey girl, I can't bring myself to stop thinking of her as annoying.
Is it alright to dislike this girl? Am I being a horrible person by ignoring her?
The good news, Sparkler, is that the answer to that first question is "yes." Your feelings about this girl are your prerogative; you're fully entitled to dislike her and that's absolutely fine.
The bad news is, the answer to that second question is... also yes. Because in terms of the way you're treating her…well, let's just say that publicly and pointedly ignoring someone who's trying to speak to you is such an overt act of nastiness that I'm surprised people are actually letting you get away with it. (Or maybe what you're actually doing is more subtle than what I'm picturing? Because what I'm picturing is like something straight out of a book called 101 Breathtaking Acts of Unforgivable Rudeness.)
The thing is, I also don't think I'm telling you anything you don't know. You've already identified this as a problem, which means you realize that the way you're handling it leaves something to be desired. And you're onto something, I think, when you say that this girl's behavior resonates in some way with your own most deep-seated insecurities. Of all the distasteful people in the world, no one will ever inspire loathing quite like the person who is basically a living embodiment of everything you don't like about yourself.
The good news is, you realize that, which means you're halfway there. All that's left is for you to take that hard-earned self-awareness and use it as inspiration for behaving more mindfully and considerately. If you know that this girl pushes all the buttons that make you want to act like an asshat, then you can use that information to anticipate and defuse what you know is going to be an uncharitable reaction to whatever she says. When you recognize that your first impulse toward someone is always going to be uncharitable, it's really not that hard to resist said impulse in favor of something less antagonistic.
In your case, that means that from now on you will make a concerted effort to be civil to this girl, as follows:
If she approaches you, fix your features in a neutral, pleasant expression and say, "What can I do for you?" (aka the polite person's version of "What the hell do you want?")
If she interjects a dumb point into your conversation, acknowledge it without encouraging further discussion (ex: "I see," or "Hmm, okay" or even "That's interesting", but in a flat tone that suggests it is really not that interesting) and then resume chatting with the person you actually want to talk to.
If she interrupts that person, you can say, "Hold on, I'd like to hear the rest of what X has to say,"—or if she interrupts you, try, "Excuse me, I'm speaking to X," in a neutral tone before resuming your original train of thought.
And if the conversation is really grating on you, then you're not required to continue it; you can always say "Excuse me," and bow out to use the bathroom/check your text messages/go rummage in your backpack like there's something in there you only just remembered you need.
If you do this consistently, the source of your irritation should eventually leave you alone, simply because talking to you is like trying to bounce a tennis ball off a carpet six inches thick (i.e. totally unsatisfying and pointless by nature). But even if she doesn't, your relentless civility will be its own kind of shield; when you keep someone at a polite distance, it's much harder for them to ever get close enough to get under your skin. Which is to say, the simple fact of her skin-picking, flip-flop-wearing, cluelessly-interjecting existence probably won't bother you anywhere near as much.
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