When You Both Like and Dislike People

When you like others but also struggle with them.

Connect with People

I think everyone who has ever met me would agree:
I sometimes struggle to, let’s say, “connect with people.”

I’m equal parts withdrawn and then critical — aloof and kinda cold until I come on way too strong and say whatever I want, getting my foot in my mouth.

But probably everyone who has ever met me would also agree:

Deep down, I actually care a lot about people.

As an often-angsty, usually-isolated introvert, I was shocked when my mom, sister, and best friend — happy-go-lucky extroverts, every one of them — all used the word “caring” to describe me when I once asked in my mid-20s.

This is a quiet little struggle; a fine line many of us dance.

I Am an Introvert

And not only am I an introvert, but I am also, as one professional coach described me (in a session for which I actually paid her), one of those “judgy little shit” ones.

I stand at arms length from others and then tell myself (and them) “I don’t need people.” I come off as “cold,” and when asked whether I prefer logic over feelings, I’ll claim “logic” up and down every time.

But what this really means — and what it means for everyone — is that I’m actually highly people-oriented, otherwise I wouldn’t even care enough to judge or get mad about them or their “lack of logic.” It means I find people confusing, my like of them even more confusing, and the cycle inherently difficult.

And I’ve learned — only by first being honest with myself, and only secondarily by realizing I’m not alone in this tendency — that the more someone feels compelled to be seen a certain way, the more they’re posturing and overcompensating for an uncertainty or insecurity.

And when someone all but introduces themselves: “hi, I’m Jess — I’m very logical.” I just want to sad smile and then lunge across the table to hug them for a little too long. Because: okay, Jess. Okay. I know.

As someone who’s been there, I know that what you probably really want is: someone who gets it. Someone to listen. Someone to rant a little bit too, sure, but also someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to agree. Someone smart to say “hell yeah — you’re absolutely right!” Someone who means it. Someone who picks up what you’re putting down and says “yes” to you and your logic.

In other words: what you really want (and what I really want) is someone — i.e., others.

I Am an Introvert Who Likes People

But I am also an introvert who is unsure of them.

So: I know that a major solution to like 99% of my problems (many of which are caused by “getting stuck in my head”) is: connecting with others (and, to a lesser extent, “taking action,” pursuing measurable external systems and, lastly, “new ideas,” the last of which does least for me).

But every time I try to connect with them, I do this in one of two ways: either a.) passively listening (“mm hm — oh, wow!”) or b.) trying to impart my Genius Insight, the latter of which, despite my sarcastic and self-deprecating capitalization, is actually quite dear to me but is rarely understood, the combination of which means every time I try to “connect with others,” it’s like having my ice cream knocked straight outta my clammy kid hands.

Sometimes people don’t want to hear what I think — about people.