I'm feeling really hopeless right now. I find it quite hard to get close to people, partly because I'm very shy and have health problems which make it hard for me to get out and about.
However, I think it's also partly because I just don't like most people's views. I find that I can be getting on with someone fine, and then they will say something racist, sexist, transphobic etc and I just think 'Oh, there it is' and just don't want to be around them. Recently I have been making a real effort to meet new people and make friends, and I try to be well-disposed towards people, but I feel increasingly strongly that the vast majority of people are bigoted in ways that I find unacceptable, and I don't know what to do. I'm far from perfect myself of course, I'm not saying I'm a paragon of virtue or anything. It's just that if I were to be close to someone, as a baseline they would have to not be a bigot/someone I feel unsafe around/someone who shows disregard for their own privilege. And I am genuinely finding it so difficult when I can't find anyone to talk to who reaches this baseline. I don't really think I'm being unreasonable, I think it's a fair baseline to have, it's not like I'm expecting people to agree with me on everything, I just want to be able to talk to people without finding it upsetting or triggering, or feeling unsafe.
A couple of examples: I was talking to some people I'd only just met at a party and they started boasting about how much they hate travellers (which is a sort of 'acceptable racism' where I'm from) and I just realised I didn't want to be talking to them, or be anywhere near them, any more. Also, someone who I've got to know recently who seemed nice and is queer/trans-positive, started on a rant about how talking about privilege is really just bigotry against white, straight men.
I feel completely exhausted with it. There is no-one I feel able to be close to because of this. I feel like the majority of people don't care about others, don't care about their privilege and are fine with treating other people like crap.
Any thoughts or support would be most welcome. Has anyone else felt like this?
Posts: 156 | From: europe | Registered: Oct 2009
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I'm sorry you're feeling like this, treetops.
By all means, it can be hard to live in our world sometimes, especially if we have social justice awareness at a level that...well, isn't the level most people have going.
Can I ask what people you DO know who are like-minded in this respect? Can you spend more time with them?
As well, how do you feel about calling this stuff out? I ask in part because I don't think that for most people bias or bigotry isn't about caring, and I also know how few people have had a really good education in this respect. What we know about bias and bigotry is that it's very much learned, and also that to get rid of it, people -- all people -- have to unlearn it. And, of course, if no one calls this stuff out when it is presented, many folks just won't unlearn.
Obviously, no one wants to be the social justice teacher for everyone they meet, but perhaps you can feel out some middle ground?
-------------------- Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen About Me • Get our book! Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead Posts: 63418 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000
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I can certainly empathize with you over feeling hopeless; and feeling that people do not understand you or your views. I often find it frustrating when my friends - over even my classmates sometimes, during seminars (who'd always be so much more vocal than I was) say things that I either did not agree with, or things that I wanted to politely and civilly contest; but I lacked the courage to do so. When I got into the upper years of university, I finally realized that I was allowed to say how I felt - as long as it was delivered with respect for the other person and justifications for my feelings/point of view - and I spoke up more. I think you can always do similarly within friendship contexts. There is nothing wrong with having friendly debates over different topics. I actually really enjoy having friendly religious debates (one of the most dangerous topics for a debate!); and you can always friendly point out your point of view to your friends. Remember, if they feel comfortable enough around you to state how they feel about things, you should be able to politely reciprocate! As long as there is respect between both parties, I think a friendship between those with different viewpoints can still be healthy.
But if you do not feel safe with people whose viewpoints are different from you, take a step back and try and figure out why you feel so uncomfortable around them. Is it because they share an alternative viewpoint than your own; or is there something else about them as well as this that is making you hesitant? Don't do anything that you think will be uncomfortable for you; but try and figure out if there isn't something else going on here, as well.
I really understand about being shy and getting close to people. I'm often shy and get reserved when I'm upset; but there are ways to make yourself feel better. Do you have family members or siblings whom you could talk to? If you are in school, you can always talk to a counsellor; just to flush out your feelings and to have someone who is there to listen. I often talked with my Chaplain when I was in school; because she was a neutral third party and she was always there to offer me good advice or things to think about.
I understand that you don't expect people to agree with you on everything; but like I said earlier, you can always have "friendly debates" with your new friends. For some subjects that might be tougher (like the rant you spoke of about privilege); but try to remember that it's okay if you are friends with people whose views are a bit different from yours. Sometimes the views might be too different and I'm not suggesting that that scenario is always possible; but if you feel like you do like these people and can get around their differing attitudes, you can always try.
You can join a social group at your school or community and just go at your own pace - maybe once a month and then twice a month - and see what happens. Lots of people feel just as you do; and are trying to look for others to hang out with. I guarantee that if you approach new people with a friendly attitude, you will feel better about yourself; regardless of how things turn out. I hope I helped a little; and take care!
-------------------- "I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can) Posts: 667 | From: Canada | Registered: May 2012
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