Why are people afraid of me? Both of my trainers at the workout program seem afraid. I’m not the oldest, or the most heavily accented, or the most immigrant of the bunch. I don’t rant or wave my CV in people’s faces at the workouts. I just pant quietly in the corner. Other ladies there are a lot louder and aggressive. If anything, I’m downright mousy there because working out is not my scene and I’m self-conscious about being fat and unfit. Although, at least a third of people there are even more fat and unfit, so I don’t stand out in that way either.

I always hear that I’m scary and I understand how I can be intimidating in the classroom or at a conference. But at a workout? It’s very tiresome because I’m not trying to be scary.

I once decided to find out how people perceived me and I asked people I knew to describe me in 3 words. The first one everybody used was always scary or intimidating. Which is incomprehensible.


23 thoughts on “Fear”

  1. “Scary and intimidating” is code for something else many times.

    As for your workouts– you probably either have RBF or murderface. In kickboxing classes, people would say things like , “wow you want to kill someone!” to me for having good technique. It’s probably just your look of intense concentration.


  2. You just l0ok intelligent and are obviously sharp and perceptive. This intimidates many people. They feel like you are judging them even when you are not, I think.


      1. Yes, I once had this. Towards the end of my PhD, I found out that one of the other PhD students was intimidated by me (she accidentally let it slip when she was drunk). I think it was just because I’m quite reserved and reasonably smart (although so was she!). The funny thing was that I was also intimidated by her, because she was really pretty and popular and “cool”… so I guess it all depends on the person’s particular insecurities.


        1. I do know when I can be, you haven’t seen me get mad. People are very surprised because I always act mild — too mild for too long, actually — but if they push me too far I stand up and my eyes flash, and I say don’t you dare, and they literally cower. I have intimidated potential muggers this way. My father does it too, it is something about the eye-flashing.


            1. That’s hilarious. But this is the thing: I have power. My parents said I was already intimidating at birth, because it was clear I was a person of power. So people see me as an authority or authoritarian, and get intimidated.


      1. Three of us, then, still need to intimidate by writing that article on why you should assign literary readings in language classes. I talk to a lot of people in English and they have all sorts of reasons not to assign literature in composition courses. One of them is that students who are not neurotypical can’t understand literature.


          1. No, someone actually said this to me. I had a non-NT student who kept saying he could not understand the motivations of the characters and someone said that was why you should not force literature on the non-NT. Actually I think the student just wasn’t reading and was fishing for info


          2. “It’s kind of scary”

            It’s very scary, because it plays into the developing idea that higher education is not supposed to change a person at all.
            My romantic notion of universities is that you leave a different person than when you arrive (yes, this is a profoundly disorienting experience and not always fun but it’s worthwhile) but the zeitgeist seems to be all about not changing.


  3. Gee, you people are all so fearsome and intimidating that I’m getting afraid to post any future comments!

    I’ll just stick to non-controversial posts about the G.F. grill and Klara’s baby pictures from now on.


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