I think I’m often misrepresented as someone who doesn’t really like other people. I’m overly sarcastic and it’s been suggested more than once that I don’t suffer fools gladly. I suppose that’s true, I don’t ‘suffer’ anything gladly. Who suffers gladly?
But I’ve got nothing against fools who don’t make me suffer.
In actual fact I like people as a general rule. I just don’t very much like being around lots of them at the same time. But I don’t think social anxiety should ever be mistaken for misanthropy – they really aren’t the same thing.
Indeed I’m by and large a tolerant person. I can already hear the derisive laughter from my nearest and dearest as they read this. And they have a point. I’m not always hugely tolerant of the people I love the most. But aren’t you always the worst version of yourself around the people you care about? Because you know they love you and they’ll forgive you and knowing the best and the worst of you is what makes those relationships more important and real than the ones when you always have to be on your best behaviour? If I’m ever grumpy, rude or morose around someone, I’m paying them the highest of all compliments. Strangely I find that they’re rarely ever grateful.
But I am really very good at being tolerant of others when I have to be. I’m a teacher of students with behavioural difficulties so I have to be professionally quite tolerant. Though, in fact, it’s rarely the kids that require the most tolerance in that world.
In any case, although I find a number of people challenging at times, there are very few people in this world that I profoundly dislike.
Nonetheless, they do exist.
There are some people that I just don’t like.
And I despise these people for their very existence. Which might seem fundamentally obvious but there are layers to this so bear with me.
If I find myself actively disliking someone, then there’s usually a rationale for my disdain. And frankly it’ll be a good reason, because for me to have exclusively negative feelings for someone takes some doing.
So it’ll be a behaviour that person could do something about and has chosen not to. Because they’re ok with actions that actively makes other people’s lives more difficult or less pleasant.
But that’s just the beginning of it. Not liking someone is an unnatural state. I’m rarely comfortable with it, and the only person I can blame for that discomfort is the person that has put me there. So alongside the valid reason for my antipathy, I dislike them further in a more abstract sense because I dislike the act of disliking them.
But there’s sometimes a third layer to my discontent.
This happens when the person shows some positive or vulnerable aspect to their character and behaves in a way that’s incongruous to previous assumptions I’ve made. People are complex; it’s possible that even the worst people have some redeeming qualities. But then I just feel guilty for ever having had negative feelings towards them. And then, just on the point of me feeling like I might have been wrong all along, they’ll go back to being the despicable entity they were before. It’s disorientating. And I find I dislike them further for the inconsistency
Now it is possible that in this little discourse I’ve highlighted more than a few flaws in my own character.
Nonetheless it would really help if all the people that I currently loathe could make a bit more effort to be likable.
But if they can’t manage that, they could at least be dependably detestable.