You make me nervous. No, I get nervous. No, I let you make me nervous.
Some people make me nervous. Sometimes I’m nervous around them, every time I’m around them. I am basically holding my breath in their presence.
Other people make me nervous only when specific topics or actions come up. I know that I’ve had an issue with feeling judged by others all of my life. I’m not sure where it came from but I think it started in high school, when we moved from the warm, all-black neighborhood in St. Louis where I went to Soldan HS to the suburb, University City, where I attended University City Senior HS. We were among the second wave of Black families who moved there and some of them gave looks that let you know they felt you didn’t belong or past muster.
In matters small and big, I get nervous:
- The friend who dresses so well that I always feel like she’s judging my clothes. If she gives a compliment, I feel exuberant, if she gives me a once-over and says nothing, I feel dinged.
- The technology savvy friend/co-worker/mate whose facility with technology makes me make mistakes in front of them or ask dumb questions of them, that I wouldn’t if it weren’t them. I know I’m better at technology than they think I am because of how I act in front of them.
- The co-workers in proximity when I have to make a business phone call in an open office. I feel tongue-tied and am liable to trip over my words.
Some processes make me nervous and agitated – especially, recently, customer service from large institutions like banks and medical offices that ask for information they should have because I gave it to them only a week or so ago or it’s part of my history that they should have on file. Weren’t they taking notes? Don’t they have my file in front of them?
I’m not talking the simple stuff like name/birth-date/address, I’m talking additional information that I’ve already given (more than once) and that they seem to be entering in their computer database while I’m giving in. I try not to get agitated. I try to be understanding and not demean the messenger but really, it’s bad enough that I’m following up with you because you didn’t follow-up with me when you said you would. Where’s the understanding that dealing with very personal matters like mortgages and health require some sensitivity in handling and that I – the customer/consumer – need to feel that you – the provider know what the hell you’re talking about and who I am. (I really want to say, “who I is” here. Just sounds more agitated and powerful.)
Where did this nervousness come from? Some people think of me as “Billy bad-ass”(my sister uses this phrase a lot) and self-assured but I only am in certain situations (self-assured that is, I’ve never felt like or wanted to be “Billy bad-ass.”)