This is one of the things that happened in the recent past and make me take a deeper look in to myself.
Few weeks back, I came across Raghu in office and had this conversation…
R: “So… what are you up to these days? I never see you in office… You must be the busiest person here. I think that you don’t even go for lunch…”
Co-incidentally that was actually one of the most hectic day at work but I didn’t mention about it…
It was the time most of the associates take a short break for tea/coffee. I was waiting for one of my team-mates to come back so that I could take up a call from customer.
R: “I saw your tweet about Elon Musk… That’s kind of interesting. Not every other girl is interested in that kind of stuff. Girls are always into dramatic stuffs…”
Me: “I don’t know. I felt that was an interesting fact to share.”
R: “Do you watch movies?”
Me: “Yeah, sometimes…”
R: “What do you wanna have? Tea? Coffee?”
Me: “Nah… I am fine. I usually don’t drink or eat anything at this time.”
R: “What about Horlicks? or milk? or may be some baby food?”
I have no clue, why he said baby food! Why would I have baby-food! Ugh!
Me: “I am good, you can take whatever you want… I’ll sit there”
R: “Are you in touch with anybody from training (referring to nearly 100 people who joined with me to the company on the same time. Raghu knows me from the training group only. We joined the office at the same time and our training classes were same.)”
Me: “No… I guess. I do see Pallavi sometimes in the cafeteria and that’s it. What about Meghna? (Meghna is a girl from Raghu’s college, who also works in the same building with us.)”
R: “Meghna is taking break now. She went back to her home to get married”
I was just speechless after knowing that. Meghna is just 24… She’s such a brilliant coder. She’s getting married so early. Her life, her career… everything will be changed after she ties the knot. But who am I to judge her? It’s her life and if she wants to marry at 24 or have other priorities, I am nobody to question her decision.
[Edit: This post popped up in my notification after 5 years. And let me give you the actual tea about Meghna. Meghna wasn’t taking a break for marriage. Even if she was she didn’t get married at least.
Instead Meghna was taking some classes learning about some state-of-the-art cloud technologies.
Eventually I saw her working in a start-up in her social media post.
Meghna got married couple of years later. Even though we aren’t very close to keep in touch with other, I am glad that she didn’t let her genius get wasted and pursued her career in tech!]
Me: “Oh! Didn’t see that coming…”
R: “When are you getting married?”
Me: “I have no plans right now. Currently I need to figure out my life and get my shit together. After that maybe…”
R: “Do you have a boy-friend?”
Me: “Umm… no? Maybe that’s one of the reasons I have no plans for marriage unlike most other people. If you(a girl) are dating someone around 28 or so, his family would definitely want you guys to get married early… but in case your boyfriend is of the same age as you (~24), it would be somewhat different…”
R: “No I think people who are dating have no interest in getting married soon. They like to enjoy life as it is…”
Me: “Maybe! I don’t know.”
R: “So what shit do you have to get together? You are already working in a good company. What do you want now? A job in the world’s best company? Like Apple?”
I don’t know why he said that… Most of the instances are unfunny and annoying…
Me: “Isn’t that too much? Why would Apple hire me?”
R: “I don’t think that you talk to anyone without purpose. You must be sitting alone, not engaging with the team or anything. I would say you have an attitude problem. It’s like a personality fault…
In my team, I have such a good term with my teammates. My manager, his boss… I talk to everyone… “
Me: “Okay… Are you still working Java? Very few people from us got project in Java… That too in development.”
R: “Yeah man. I work on Java but not only that. I work on other technologies as well. I don’t limit myself to just one thing.”
Me: “How do you do that? In my team, I am the youngest one and they didn’t give me major coding tasks, only the people with experience would do that. Also our team is quite big…”
R: “In my team, nobody is my boss… I can take whatever tasks I want.”
R: “So what I was talking about… you have an attitude problem. You don’t engage with people unless it is required. That is not a good thing. Consider a situation where people have to choose one between you and another guy who is friendly and talks to everyone. Why would people choose you? Everybody will choose the person they have talked to, whom they know… It is just my opinion. It is up to you whether you want to change yourself or not. At the end of the day, I am what I am and you are what you are. If you want to stay like you are, I cannot say anything.”
I do not remember responding to that. I could not defend myself, after all that would sound like an excuse. There was an awkward silence for some time then I said, “Okay, I would see if I can do something about it. “
I didn’t want to drag the topic further, so I took up some other topic and that’s it.
Raghu gave me a negative comment on me and it is most likely that I would try to justify myself why I am not what he’s saying… But I wanted to be share the incident without giving any favor to me. I quoted our conversation in stead of mixing it up with my own opinion.
Background: Now I would like to introduce you to Raghu and tell you how much interaction I have with him.
I know Raghu from when we joined the company for training. We were fresh graduates taking our first steps into the corporate world. I had also traveled to a different state far away from home and met many people who didn’t speak Bengali and had different cultural backgrounds. As an introvert, I didn’t make a lot of friends; the training period was stressful in many ways. We talked only a couple times during that time.
Once our training ended, some people got projects right away and others applied for transfers. The rest of us reported to the resource management team so they could assign us to projects. Raghu got into one and asked me if I wanted to join his team too. Although I was getting calls from other projects, I didn’t want to take a referral; I knew I’d get one soon enough on my own terms. So, I told him that if no project came through within a month, then I’d join his team – which isn’t rude at all!
I was sent to learn a new technology the following month. We had no contact then. After training, I joined one project and after a few months moved to another, where I met Raghu again—about 6-8 months later. None of our colleagues from the training were there; they were spread across different projects and locations. We rarely spoke for more than a minute. One day he asked me, “How’s your work going?”
I don’t remember what I said but he replied,
R: “I never understand anything from your face. You have the same expression all the time.”
Me: “Is that bad?”
R: “I am not saying that it is bad but people can’t tell if you are happy or you are stressed…”
Fast forward a couple of months, he was on his bike and offered me a ride to a place 5 minutes away. He didn’t mention to drop me at my hostel which was in a different route, he asked me to come with him till the common route which was less than half a kilometer. I am terrified of bike rides and speed, this is such a weird thing to say. Most of the people don’t believe me and think I am being dramatic. I just said, “No thanks… It’s not very far away… I can go by myself.
“Well, that’s your loss then.” Raghu said and drove away.
Most days I go alone and I’m used to it. Except when my grocery bags are too heavy, then I don’t need help. He offered me a ride but it didn’t really help. Maybe my “no” wasn’t polite enough; maybe it didn’t express how appreciative I was for his concern. In my mind, I don’t want to be mean, but my body language might say otherwise.
In my opinion, we didn’t interact enough for him to comment on my personality. That’s often the impression people have when they don’t know me well. My sister agrees with Raghu about my attitude; she’s seen me at my worst and if she says something it’s probably true.
Do I have a personality fault that needs work? Can the person who knows me best and the one who barely does both agree? Am I an open book or is it obvious on my face?
[Edit: Writing this after 5 years of posting the original story.
I hope I’ve improved myself and have a more mature perspective on life. I look back and feel that my conversation with Raghu was always one-sided.
As an introverted and shy person, I often prefer to keep my thoughts to myself. Having small talks with people can be challenging for me, which may be a shortcoming. After being approached a couple of times, I usually become friends with the person and talk more freely and comfortably.
When it comes to Raghu, I never saw him as a friend, even after he approached me many times. I wasn’t interested in talking with him – not because of my introversion, but because of who I choose to befriend.
Raghu felt it was disrespectful not to start small talk when we ran into each other, so he called out my “personality problem”! I can’t deny that I work in an industry where communication is a highly valued skill. Networking and making connections with people at work and outside through small talk are powerful tools. I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone and do more of this.
I realized this guy was sexist—how he always stereotyped girls. I don’t regret not being his friend. I’ll keep my distance from people like Raghu, always!]
Since you’ve come so far in this post, let me tell you a secret… I am an INFJ (An Advocate/INFJ is someone with the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging personality traits. ) according to the MBTI test. You can check your personality too by answering few questions here- https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
That’s all folks. Thanks for reading 🙂 Checkout my next blog here.
Photo Credit : Patrick Fore on Unsplash