All I Want for Christmas is a Filter

Hello? Is this thing on? Does anyone still like me now that I’m back in America?

I’m gonna hope that silence is an enthusiastic yes and that it’s not social suicide to continue your study abroad blog when you come home. I mean, I may not have any new lost in translation stories, but I can guarantee that some of the things I say in English are even more nonsensical than those in Spanish. The only difference is I don’t have a language barrier to blame when I make a total fool out of myself and, after writing about it in my blog, I don’t simply get to laugh it off. Now, these confrontations are followed by six hours of cold sweats and refreshing my email until I eat myself into nap and wake up forgetting anything ever happened, until I get a notification that someone liked or commented on my blog, which starts the whole process over. It’s truly wonderful.

Anyway, let me preface this story with some background knowledge of the Life and Trying Times of Miranda Groh. Professional, adult relationships have always been a struggle for me because when you grow up with parents who played ball WITH YOU in the house and whose nickname for you is “Skank,” you’re really not used to having definitive boundaries.

You know that friend who all the kids love, but all the parents hate? That’s usually me. Because I have such a casual relationship with my parents, the first adults I ever really made a connection with, I come off as disrespectful to some parents. Which is not at all true. I respect parents. Parenting has got to be the hardest job in the world, especially when your kid brings home a limitless brat like me who drops crumbs on your floor and whose catchphrase is, “Sup dog?”. I’m just used to having more lax relationships with adults, so when I’m expected to take my shoes off upon entering the house, greet the adults with “Hello Mr. and Mrs. ____,” and use a fork to eat my Eggo waffle, things do not always go as planned.

To me, words are only words. When someone says something they didn’t mean to, I have no trouble understanding what they really meant and wiping that dirt right off their shoulder before they break into muddy cold sweats. Mostly because it freaks me out when people are overly sweaty, but still. I’m slowly learning, however, that words are torpedo-boomerangs that come back to sink your own ship so fast you don’t even have time to add “-ake mushrooms” to your expletive. In the real world, words are carefully selected and crafted to convey the exact implications necessary, and one slip-up can be fatal. I’m in critical condition here, folks.

So, Awesome Person (AP) invites me to coffee. AP works for Awesome Company (AC) and I would love to have a great relationship with all of this Awesomeness. After months of suspense, I am finally able to start networking with and learning from AP. I wait in the lobby for AP to meet me. When he arrives, I stand up to greet him and practically fall right back into my chair. Three Cups of Coffee And Too Much Stuff in My Purse- 1, Me- 0.

AP and I leave the building to go grab more coffee. When we get to the register, I do that whole awkwardly-holding-your-wallet-while-waiting-for-them-to-offer-to-pay thing, until AP offers to pay. I not-so-graciously say “Oh, thanks,” and without a fight, put my wallet away. In my defense, this is Society being dumb, not me. If Society has already decided who should pay in these situations, why does Nervous Girl have to pretend to be ready to pay, when in reality she’d be baffled if she actually had to pay? Anyway, Society- 1, Me- 0.

We drink our coffee and have a great conversation about me, AP and AC. I’m genuinely so excited about the future opportunities with Awesome Company, and it seems like Awesome Person is, too. So much Awesomeness in one conversation, I can hardly believe I’ve made it through this encounter only being down by 2 points.

Then comes the goodbye. AP asks, “You’re taking the light rail home, right? Do you know where it is? Want me to walk you over there?” To which I reply, “No, I’m good, thank you though!” AP follows up with, “You sure?”

By this point in the meeting, I am feeling so good about my opportunities and myself that I’m bubbling over with Strong Independent Woman Syndrome (SIW Syndrome), a terrible disease that ensures you come off as sassy as possible in situations where sass is completely unnecessary. It’s purely an attempt to combat what can seem to SIW like condescending chivalry, when in reality it is just an AP being extremely nice. I then roll my eyes and reply, “Um, I’ve lived here for two years, I think I can find the light rail.” And then I imagine myself collapsing onto the pavement into a seizure in order to distract from the incredibly grotesque, attitude-filled response that just fell out of my mouth. Unfortunately, I’m in great health, so I was forced to face the consequences right then and there, as AP politely pointed me in the direction of the light rail station anyway. Also, it turns out I have a terrible sense of direction and needed AP’s help, anyway. Strong Independent Woman Syndrome- 1, Me- 0.

Commence cold sweats and rapidly writing about this occurrence so that others will tell me it’s not that big of a deal and that it didn’t even cross AP’s mind that the taste of my own foot is still on my tongue.

So, this is just a small example of the wonderful things that can happen when you’re raised by non-traditional parents. Now I get it. I’m still a proponent of lax relationships between adults and children, but I definitely have some learning to do. I’m normally pretty good at analyzing where I stand with people and what kind of sass is acceptable, but with cup of coffee #4 and my humility slowly wearing away at the thought of opportunities with AC, I lost it.

AP, if you ever read this, I apologize for being a brat. I also apologize for bringing you back to the 3rd grade by using the word “brat,” but it’s part of this whole censoring process I’m going through right now. This has been a great learning experience and I can only hope that one day I will be an AP like you instead of a filterless doo doo head.

Until next time, you wonderful people. Even if you’re only still here to feel better about yourself and your professional lives, I appreciate you reading this!

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