08 March 2011

Bitchelorettes and my mission dynamics

Remember how I said, in the comments on my post, that I've known women who remind me of Michelle on The Bachelor, and I think she was intense and manipulative and got caught up in playing up the drama when interviewing but probably was hiding some insecurities and might actually be pretty lovable? Yeah...OK, so I didn't spell it all out, but that's what I've thought.

Part of me actually thought I might really like her and wanted to get past the exterior shell and defense mechanisms to see what was past those. I don't think her breakdown on this week's "The women tell all" episode was an act. And I think Jackie and Stacey (and maybe that blonde girl whose name I don't care to look up) are far more bitchy than Michelle ever was, and they always have been unapologetically so. I also think more people forgive their brand of bitchy because it's more socially standard. More people are like them than are like Michelle, so they get a free ride on the guilt of the masses. I can't stand their self-protective, superiority-grasping snarls and scoffs. Jackie wears a perma-sneer I've always wanted to slap right off of her face. I had a strongly negative impression of these girls from the first episode: yes, girls, not women. I had quick impressions of Michelle, too: high-maintenance, overbearing, but potentially very interesting because she immediately reminded me of a person or two I really like... As I see it, if anyone was putting on airs and being two-faced in classic mean-girl fashion, it was the girls attacking Michelle. The way they looked at each other to affirm each other in their attacks was obvious. The way they clearly criticized her in roundabout ways and tried to deny it was deceptive and hypocritical. Michelle was over-the-top aggressive and made biting comments, but she's not pointing the finger and kicking someone while she's down: they are.

But then...if I'm going to be fair in the way they refuse to be with Michelle, I have to acknowledge that they're probably operating from within their own limited paradigms, they don't understand what Michelle means when she says she's "easily misunderstood". They don't understand her particular brand of self-defense or coping mechanisms, so her tears don't make sense to them except as a ploy, and I saw in their faces a look that seemed sincerely flabbergasted that anyone was buying into her "sob story" or showing sympathy, maybe because they figured that's exactly her design. But I am open to the possibility, or probability, that she was very much genuine in that moment. Even if, mind you, it doesn't "make sense" rationally when you put everything externally observable together, it's the unseen, internal factors that may incite sincere and very real emotion in her and make sense of what she's trying to say. So even if she will look back five years from now and think, "Wow, I was kind of a mess and had some things to figure out, and I probably shouldn't have been so bent out of shape and shouldn't have said some of the things I said on the show," (incidentally, she already has admitted that much) that doesn't mean she was being fake. But I don't expect everyone to have known the people I've known and understand the same people I understand, so I have to acknowledge that these women's hard faces and defensive glares might be no more indicators of their badness than Michelle's comments on the show were of hers. Jackie's perma-sneer notwithstanding, she might be a very good person in many ways I don't readily perceive because I struggle to get past her prickly demeanor. And I must admit, she saved some face towards the end, when she backed off a bit...but she still had that blasted expression of false superiority...

Here's the thing: I identify with Michelle. That's probably no real shocker. Of course, I'm not aggressive in the way she is, but I just...I guess I'm just one of those who saw past her words to her, as she put it, dry, sarcastic sense of humor. I got a good laugh when others were gasping at some of the things she said. I imagined her smirking a bit inside as she said some of the things she said because she knew how intense they were but was hamming it up during the camera interviews. I got a kick out of the editing to ramp up the "stalker" factor with brief shots and creepy music. I figured, "OK, she might be a bit of a creeper, but I suspect she's just...a bit intense and coping in her own quirky way." When she didn't take the other women's bait to engage in a cat fight but briefly defended herself and apologized and broke down, I saw the side of her I suspected had always been there, not shocked as the host said.

On my mission, just a couple of missionaries seemed to "get me" in the sense that they saw past what I was only in the process of realizing were prickly personality traits and barriers I had up. In some ways, I was an a-hole to most companions and unnecessarily rigid, but I sincerely didn't mean to be unkind or dismissive of anyone as a person, and I didn't know how to be any different while upholding my standards and defending my values, and I wasn't acting out of spite for anyone but out of desire to maintain my own beliefs and principles above all else. I've never been just like everyone else, personality-wise, and learning to adapt and put people at ease or engage in certain arbitrary social tokens has always been a bit challenging or tiring for me, to be honest. I find directness so refreshing, but most people find it uncomfortable. I most often challenge my own ideas internally before vocalizing them, but when I challenge someone else's, even in what I think is a benign way in order to understand how they arrived at something, all they often hear is, "I disagree and think your ideas aren't worth accepting and would rather do it my way."

I suspect many missionaries believed that they "saw through" my poise and "quiet dignity" to a selfish a-hole who didn't give a rip about anyone else, believing my "righteousness" to be an act to save face or appear respectable and gain approval from authority. But some saw what I believe was my intent and seemed to love me despite my thorns, and even then, I had an inkling that there were things I'd need to learn if I was going to keep from alienating people my whole life, and I wanted to learn them but couldn't as long as people just pushed back against what they perceived as me being an a-hole rather than loving me and showing me by example or kindly offering constructive criticism in the right moments.

See? This is an example of the stuff that goes through my head while I'm watching The Bachelor. I know: kinda intense and analytical, hm? But that's me, baby. Of course, I also simply enjoy the train wreck factor and the melodrama sometimes. :-)


Bravone said...

I must admit feeling a bit torn about Michelle this week. I wanted to hate her as much as I have in the past, but something about her seemed more real than before. Still glad she's gone though!

I really appreciate the thought process of you used comparing yourself to her. It made me think if I come across to others as pious sometimes. I did have two companions who felt that way, and it took a while for us get to know and appreciate each other.

I'm making a personal commitment to reevaluate not only my motives, but how I interact with others. Thanks for making me think, and who'd of thunk that evil b*t*h from SLC would be the impetus of such personal introspection!

Original Mohomie said...

*Shaking bowed head in exasperation* :-)