I’ve been dating a guy for the last three months. Things have been going pretty good and he’s a really nice person, but we’re taking it slowly because I had a bad break up six months ago with a guy I had been seeing for three years. Anyway, I’m of Columbian descent and grew up in the NYC area. This guy’s White and is from North Carolina and moved up here ten years ago for college. Last week he wanted me to meet his friends, and we went out to dinner. At first I thought they were nice, but then I couldn’t believe how insensitive they were. They seemed shocked that I grew up in the neighborhood I grew up in, asking me what it was like growing up in the neighborhood I did, and one girl said, “You’re Columbian. Really? I thought you looked White!” I’m really hurt and upset and now I don’t know if things can work out between me and my new boyfriend. Maybe we’re just too different. I’ve never dated a white guy before and if this is how his friends are going to treat me, maybe it’s not worth it!
I’m so sorry to hear about the ignorance of your boyfriend’s friends. Their questions certainly sound insensitive. They were not at all considerate of the fact that this is a new relationship – a first meeting with friends is a time to get to know you as an individual (not as a stereotype!) and put you at ease.
You may be surprised, but I’m going to give you some credit for this. I’m getting the sense that you must have an engaging presence which put his friends at ease around you and so they started asking personal questions (albeit in an ignorant manner). If you have such a positive effect on people, making them feel comfortable, think about how you could use this as a way to educate them and dispel some of their preconceived cultural biases and prejudices.
On another note, remember, the comments came from the friends, NOT your boyfriend! Tell him how the comments made you feel and give him a chance to respond. Your different backgrounds didn’t get in the way of your getting together. So, hopefully, it doesn’t have to split you apart. I know you are tentative after your recent break-up, but if this guy is sensitive to your feelings and supports you in letting his friends know that what they said wasn’t “cool,” you’ve got a good guy there and should give him a chance.
I’m in the last year of graduate school, and I have to find a job soon. All these job fairs are coming up and companies that are recruiting are coming to my school to meet the graduating students. I am so worried about these upcoming interview it’s making me miserable! I just feel like I’m a quieter person than my classmates. It’s driving me crazy being around them because I keep thinking they are all so good at small talk and know about so many things –I can just talk about my coursework, my family, and shows I watch on TV. One girl keeps saying how nervous she is but she’s so loud and perfect at everything, it makes me kind of mad and scared. How am I going to make a good impression at an interview? I keep feeling smaller and smaller. What should I do? Help me get out of my shell!
Feeling like a Turtle
Dear Feeling like a Turtle,
What’s inside your shell? That’s what I want to know. There must be lots of fascinating stuff in there. You may have heard from well-meaning friends and family that only the peacocks make it. So you’re wearing yourself out and beating yourself up because you’re not a peacock at this moment. That’s certainly not going to help you with your interviews.
So check out your shell, YOUR interior. What drove you to go into this field in the first place? What do you love about it? Why does it suit you, and what unique qualities do you bring to it? You might very well be coming from a deeper place than many of your classmates. If you can begin to articulate what motivates you, what special strengths you bring to what you do, and then connect with your interviewers on a quieter yet genuine level, you’ll far surpass some of your move ostentatious peers. You may even find others wondering what’s so fascinating inside that shell of yours that it keeps you so absorbed. And you may even begin inviting more people to join you in there.
Nadine Bernard is a Board Certified Life Coach and playwright who specializes in working with women who are grappling with issues regarding their careers, relationships, motherhood, self-expression and self-esteem. She uses techniques based in coaching, psychology, and theater as she partners with women to find clarity, fulfillment and balance as they become the heroes of their own lives. She works with clients locally in Montclair, NJ and across the country via Skype.