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Recently, I’ve been told I was called a bitch by someone who didn’t know me. She took one look at my photo and decided I was a bitch and told our mutual friend as such.

That happened a while back and I only learnt about this name-calling episode recently through that mutual friend.

Naturally, I was taken aback by that strong remark. Almost instantly, my reaction was shock; then I asked myself if I had done anything to deserve that name. Subsequently, my third reaction was rallying support: I asked that friend if he thought I was a bitch. Obviously, he said he didn’t think so. Still, that comment left me stinging.

Quite known to me, I’ve not come away from social situations as most highly favoured personality or most popular. In fact, I’ve always been the rather silent, brooding one; punctuating awkward social situations with my cryptic humour, and only truly opening up to closer friends and familiar faces. Think of me like a durian: acquired taste.

My job though, requires me to take on a more social personality. Therein lies the kicker: I’m what they call an introverted extrovert. I can blend easily into social situations because I have been trained to do so but not necessarily because I want to. Trust me, it is quite a tiring facade to put up, forcing one to step out of one’s comfort zone to engage another for purely social reasons. Naturally, when I do like the other person, all pretense is dropped and I’m just me: honest with a whole lot of sincerity, which, I might add, has been taken advantage of countless times. So maybe this durian facade is just self-preservation.

I’ve started to listen to myself more when I talk as I grow older. And I’ve noticed that I’ve turned into a not very nice person. I’m direct and intense and I have a perverse sense of humour. Only a few with similarly acquired humour get my jokes. Mostly, it’s just me being irreverent candid. But some find it too candid for their liking, preferring coffee shop talk to be more diplomatic and agreeable.

As it would appear, my intensity, directness and cryptic humour is quite the explosive combination. Don’t get me wrong, I think intensity is good but only when it is welcomed; and in most social situations, nobody really likes the intense, brooding soul spewing the occasional unreserved remark bordering on sarcasm. I guess then, I must have really nice, agreeable and accommodating friends.

Honestly, I’m just better one-on-one. My gaze, another disagreeable quality of mine, to some, is simply too intense. I’ve been told my (silent) stare can make children cry. But I really don’t intend to stare or make anyone cry. I was just born with semi large eyes that hardly need to blink. Strangely though, that same stare doesn’t work on rude customer service officers who refuse to play nice. Maybe they operate on a higher level of bitchy I have yet to attain.

Anyhow, I’ve also started observing my own actions in and around the office and concluded that I work in a somewhat toxic environment which isn’t quite conducive to inculcating good values or is rewarding for people with good behaviour.

My workplace is literally bringing out the worst in me. I’ve become more intolerant of passing negative remarks (which are hurled freely and ever so often), and I’m short with people who rub me the wrong way with their approach. What’s worse, this bad behaviour ripples into my personal life. Sometimes, I literally watch my bad behaviour unravel before me (almost from a third-person perspective) and I can’t seem to stop it. Like through a looking glass, I have to constantly tell myself to stop. Quite a tiring exercise for a full-on, 18-hour day.

At this workplace, it seems bitch mode is modus operandi, every single minute. When you do something long enough, it becomes second nature.

So yes, I guess I can be a bitch afterall. And maybe, it’s time to take a step away from this negativity and start unlearning my bad habits.

Still, I can’t help but wonder: can someone judge a person by his/ her photo? How is it that bitch is labeled on my face? Is it labeled on other people’s faces too? Why is it that we always judge? How do we just stop?

Here’s some food for thought. In biblical times, this someone said something so memorable, we still quote it today.

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” – John 8:7



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