Thursday, April 12, 2007


This post may get a little long and even a bit cryptic so don’t feel obligated to read it all. I just need to get it out of my head. And if you want to share advice, opinions or thoughts please do.

I had the annual symposium for NSF fellows yesterday and as I sat down at one of the students table I noticed right away that two of the people were not people I was currently on speaking terms with. Now, I’ve never considered myself as difficult to get along with. I think I am a nice person, a good friend and intensely loyal. Maybe to a fault. The two people I am speaking of had at some point broken my trust, or deeply hurt one of my friends. One of the girls is someone I had repeatedly tried to be friends with, only to find myself burned a few times over. She had also done the same thing to runnergirl and even Randy. The other girl played a role in driving a wedge between my good anonymous friend and her roommate. The result was my good friend being all but forced to move out of her apartment so this girl could move in. I don’t know her that well myself, but she comes off as extremely shallow and immature. I ended up taking a seat between her boyfriend and an extremely friendly engineer whose company I really enjoy. He leads our biweekly discussion and lets me sit out on the animal testing talks because it gives me such bad anxiety. Anyway, just as an aside about how immature some of these people were, that girl and her boyfriend sat and texted each other during the whole keynote address. Recall they were sitting right next to each other.

The point I am trying to make is: When did I become someone who is reluctant to talk to people because of a history? I used to be so good at letting things go. I take pride in the fact that I stick up for what I believe is right. I want to be thought of as someone with convictions, about which I am passionate, not some spineless blob of goo who agrees with everyone. But on the other hand, people generally like the gooey spineless people because they are friendly and easy to get along with. But I am human and I want people to like me too! You know that I am worried about walking the fine line between “strong woman” and “bitchy woman”. And the line is blurry depending on who you are asking. But it almost always exists.

Another related story on my mind involves how loyal my friends are to me. While my labmates and I were in Denver last month, I got into an argument with another grad student from our department. It was a very bad situation (yes, there was alcohol involved which often exacerbates bad situations) and one of my labmates- who is also a very close friend- wouldn’t stick up for me. I’m not talking about “sticking up” as in “agreeing with me” during a political discussion. I don’t need that, I can hold my own in political discussions. I mean “sticking up” as in attesting to my character when it is being verbally attacked. As a last resort, I said, “Would you like to weigh in about this?!” To which he responded, “I think I’ll stay out of it.” Needless to say, the other grad student is another on my “don’t speak to” list at the moment. Of course, gooey, spineless labmate is as chummy with him as ever.

So what do I do? I work with my labmates for 8-10 hours a day and I don’t want to wreck my relationship with any of them. But I also feel like his lack of standing up for me is still really an issue. I haven’t gotten over it and I’m not going to get over it until he understands the magnitude of how this hurt me. Much worse than the other grad whose opinion of me I couldn’t care less about at this point. Okay, if you’re still reading this, now is the time to chime in. And I promise, I won’t put any of you on my Don’t Speak To list.


Jackie said...

The only problem with the silent treatment is that you can't explain what is really bothering you when you aren't talking to someone. I completely understand how you would be hurt when your friend didn't stick up for you.

However, wouldn't it be a shame if he (or she?) thought that you were mad because they didn't stick up for you on the political part, but you are really mad because they didn't stick up for you on the personal part. Try to explain yourself, if that doesn't work, then I'm out of suggestions.

Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

Cryptic but nicely written. If you want my opinion, here it is:

1) The fact that you recognize that there is a fine line between being a "strong woman" and a "bitchy woman" and that you monitor your actions and reactions according to that line is commendable.

2) Those girls aren't worth your time and/or energy. Neither have shown the caliber of character that is worthy of your friendship.
Side note: Thankfully, I have.

3) It seems that Labmate is going through an "interesting" time in his life right now. It seems he is allowing himself (or more specifically his thoughts and actions) to be influenced by people of less than stellar character (see note 2). Because he chooses to spend much of his time with them and/or communicating with them, it seems he has learned how they deal with certain situations and is choosing to imitate that behavior ( i.e. not sticking up for you when he knows that he can attest for your good character and save you the irritation of someone sullying your good name).

4) You have two options for what you can do.
a) You can choose to let go of your friendship with Labmate and finish up your PhD with little more than superficial communication with him.
b) You can confront Labmate about your feelings and evaluate from his reaction/justification whether or not the friendship is even worth salvaging at this point.

lefty_grrrl said...

Sounds like a lot of drama. I say you should just keep the friendship superficial. Sounds like that's what your labmate is doing.

And that girl sounds psycho.

Runner Girl FL said...

Ok...First..regarding anon's comments:
1) Ditto
2) Ditto
3) Ditto - with the added that he has always been Jello and my encounter with him not sticking up for me was with said crazy girl. So it isn't new behavior.

From here I differ a little bit. Labmate is going through a weird life upheaval but that doesn't excuse anything. I have found that there are very few people in this world as defensive of their friends as I am. I am lucky to have you as one of them as a friend and be dating another. That being said... Labmate is not one of them and so I cannot expect that to happen. Instead I don't make it superficial but I never ask for the help and generally don't put myself in that position anymore. It can be a friendship that isn't superficial but it isn't as close as it once was.

If something like what came up with "fellow grad student" comes up I don't expect Labmate to help. It is still the hardest pill to swallow. EVERY TIME!! And since there are so few of us who are this loyal we have to swallow it often.

You have my complete understanding... Labmate did this to me too. And He can't have back what we had once now. Maybe he doesn't care.

Anonymous said...


Scott said...

Shit, I haven't read this. Gotta fly, but will be back. You need to drop by.

magnetbabe said...

Drama is right. No matter how careful you try to be by living a serious, studious life and maintaining a quiet, healthy, stress-free personal life this shit sometimes finds you. And all I can really do is learn from it.

What is most hurtful is that things never used to be superficial with us. He knows me as well as anyone and chose to sit there.

I know in my heart I should say something. This bitterness is poisoning our friendship but of course he's clueless. I am also still a Minnesotan, so the passive aggressive tactic might just win over. Either way, you're right this is a tough pill to swallow.

I'm so lucky to have friends like you both in real life and on the web. You can't chose who you are thrown into a room with for most hours of the day and all-in-all I've done well with that part. But the choices I have made as far as to who I want to seek out and grow a friendship with have paid off. Thanks!

Scott said...

Ok, here is my two cents on the matter. But first, a story.

When I dropped out of my first college (went to another later and did finally graduate) I paid a visit to my old friend. This friend worshipped the ground I walked on, and told me things like we were brothers--stuff like that.

I got hammered one night, and I really mean it. Slam hammered. For the hell of it, I tried to sneak out of the bar with a beer glass in my inner jacket pocket and got caught by a bouncer, who told me that I was under arrest. I freaked, tried to run, got piled on by him and about four others (but who's counting?).

My friend was there with me when they took me away. I flipped him the keys and told him to come to the station.

He did.

A bail bondsman told my friend and brother that if he signed on the bond to get me out that night, and I failed to show up for my court date, he would be responsible for five hundred dollars.

And that five hundred dollars was the cost of our friendship. He wouldn't sign it, left me there and drove my truck back to his dorm.

Now I realize this isn't an equal situation, not to the one you are talking about, but when he didn't trust me to make good... I just couldn't look at him anymore.

I'm not one to ask about these things, not if you want to hear about how to turn the other cheek and all that bull. If he or she was ever going to be a person that is worthy to breath the same air as you... I think you know where I'm going with this.

Good people are hard to find Nat. That's why you should hang on to your friends, and may God or whoever you look to for comfort grant you the wisdom to know the damn difference. All others are just a waste of time.

My advice, just be cool. No reason to be angry with the person. But do not delude yourself as to who that person is.

magnetbabe said...

First of all the feat for which you were arrested I have pulled off twice. Once in Chicago, once in Miami and I'm thankful I didn't end up in jail in either of those places.

You're right, the story isn't different but the principal is dead on. It's funny how in these situations, the whole dynamic of a friendship that has lasted for years can change instantly. Thanks for sharing.