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More Things That Make Me Feel Uncomfortable

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about some of the things people do that make me feel uncomfortable, and of course, as soon as I hit “publish” on it, I started thinking of lots of OTHER situations that are similarly awkward. At the risk of making myself sound like an absolute basket case, then, here are some MORE things that make me mildly-to-seriously uncomfortable: feel free to add your own!

out of place

When you’re travelling in the back seat of someone’s car, and they turn music on so loud that you can’t hear a word the front-seat passengers are saying, so you just have to sit there in silence, feeling like you’ve been deliberately excluded from the conversation.

When you get to your destination, the people who were in the front have had a lovely long discussion (and have also made plans for the rest of the day, which you weren’t consulted about), and have secretly decided that you’re a moody cow, because you didn’t say a word other than, “WHAT’S THAT? SORRY, I DIDN’T CATCH THAT?” for the whole journey, before giving up and just sitting there listening to their terrible music, and wondering if you could get the bus back home instead.

When you visit someone’s house, and they don’t bother to switch off their louder-than-hell TV, which sits blaring away in the corner like a rowdy, drunk person, who is impossible to ignore.

This also has the effect of making you feel like you’ve obviously arrived at a bad time, and are forcing your hosts to miss their favourite show: awkward.

When people only know one thing about you, so they mention it every time they see you, even although you haven’t even thought about that thing for years. 

I once spent several years of my life being asked by casual acquaintances how I was progressing with my plan to become a psychologist – a plan I entertained for two weeks when I was 15, and then never thought about again.

When people compliment you by putting themselves down all the time.

“I love your dress! I wish I wasn’t such a fat pig, so I could wear something like that! I hate myself!” Er, thanks? I guess?

When you’re in a noisy bar, or somewhere else that requires you to shout in order to be heard over the loud music, and then suddenly the music stops while you’re still in mid-shout.

I honestly used to think this was something that only ever happened in movies, but it’s happened to me several times now, so guys: IT’S REAL. (Other things I thought only happened in movies, but which have totally happened to me: slipping on a banana skin. Yup, I did that.)

When three people have to cram themselves into the back seat of a car, and you just KNOW you’ll be selected to sit in the middle.

Seriously, it’s ALWAYS me. I don’t think I’ve EVER travelled in a full car and NOT been the one squeezed awkwardly into the middle seat, painfully aware that I’m more or less sitting on the knees of the people on each side of me, swaying dramatically from side to side every time the car makes an unexpected movement, and having to cling to the front head-rests at every corner, to stop myself landing in someone’s lap. Added bonus: the knowledge that if the car has to stop suddenly, I’ll be the one pitching right through the front window!

Having to remove your shoes in someone’s house when you weren’t expecting it, and your feet aren’t fit to be seen.

I realise this will be a controversial one, but I hate having to take my shoes off when I wasn’t expecting it – not, I hasten to add, because I’m super-precious about my shoes, but simply because I hate exposing my horrible feet to people. I DO it, obviously – I mean, your house, your rules and all that –  but it does make me really uncomfortable if I haven’t been able to plan for it.  Like, you’re out somewhere with friends, and someone suggests everyone goes back to their place afterwards? And you’ve been dancing/standing around all night, so your feet are hot, and probably sweaty, and now you’re going to have to expose them to OTHER PEOPLE? Awkward.

(Yes, I know there are many cultures in which shoes are never worn indoors, and everyone is always prepared for that (Japan, Canada, etc) – I’m talking about situations where it isn’t necessarily the cultural norm, and where you weren’t expecting to be visiting someone’s home and you’re worried that your feet stink, or you have a bad case of athlete’s foot or whatever…)

When you’re in a restaurant and you’ve just taken a giant bite of food when the waiter appears and wants to know how everything is.

How do they know to only ever appear when your mouth is full? Do they hide around the corner and watch you?

When people ask how much you earn.

I always want to respond by asking to see their bank statement. Oh, sorry: am I making you feel uncomfortable? Shame.

ANYONE WANT TO ADD SOME MORE?

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34 Comments
  • @foreveramber
    May 5, 2015

    More Things That Make Me Feel Uncomfortable http://t.co/VOUWgBSId7

  • Fran
    May 5, 2015

    When at an academic conference someone starts bitching about your supervisor/collaborator/YOU because they have no idea who you are and they think they can get away with it.

    When I go volunteering for my political party, someone politely accepts the leaflet I have (politely) offered and their child blurts out: ‘We’re not voting for you, because we don’t like you!’ cue me and the parent awkwardly shuffling away.

    When we have friends over, plan on ordering Chinese, then when the order is complete someone pipes up they’d rather have pizza – but the order is already through, so as hostess I still HAVE to call the restaurant to attempt to cancel it, even if they won’t and we all know it, and pizza-person sits there going ‘Oh, don’t go to so much trouble for me, I SUPPOSE I can have Chinese after all’. You don’t say. :p

    Also, I feel you on the shoe issue. In Italy most houses have hardwood/tile floors and nobody takes off their shoes, but in England where most houses have carpets lots of people offer/expect you to…and for my first year in this country I lived in terror of taking off my shoes and smelling up the place. :p

  • Emily Jayne
    May 5, 2015

    Oh I am so with you on the loud music stopping mid shout one – this seems to happen to me all the time, and why does it always happen on a word that makes it sound like you’re having a really weird conversation?

  • Nina
    May 5, 2015

    Completely agree with all of the above – you’re definitely not a basket case (or I am one, too. We’ll never find out).
    I always try to take socks with me, just in case, but sometimes I forget and then… *cuepsychoscore*
    About the loud disco music – I hate it when people (and by people, I mean men) want to tell you something and instead of shouting over the music like everyone else, they put their hand around your head to whisper in your ear. Yuck. I get it, you’re of the touchy kind. Please leave me alone?!
    Please tell me it’s not just me with that one ^^

    • Selina
      May 5, 2015

      Oh no Nina, it’s not just you. Why do so many men take such liberties as strangers? They’re not creating an engaging and flirtatious mood for me, they’re invading my space and I want them gone. Instant turn off. Stop bloody well touching me, I didn’t show you my consent

  • Anca
    May 5, 2015

    Ohh, I hate taking my shoes off and I hate it when guests are doing it even though I tell them not to bother. Why are they doing that?! I have carpets, is true, but I also have a Dyson, a carpet cleaner and a dog who is not the cleanest of animals hence the other 2.

  • Hannah Webster
    May 5, 2015

    I hate the taking my shoes off thing too. I’m often in summer wearing pumps or other flats without any socks and get paranoid my feet will be sweaty and gross. Plus, if you know someone that well, being without shoes AND socks in their home feels way too familiar, or is that just me?

    • Amber
      May 5, 2015

      Yes! I’m exactly the same – even if I wasn’t paranoid about how gross my feet might be (I only wear socks/tights during the winter, so most of the time I’ll have bare feet in pumps), it feels really weird to me to be padding around someone else’s house in my bare feet: it just feels so over-familiar!

  • Selina
    May 5, 2015

    I’m always cursed with the middle seat. Damn that middle seat

  • Elizabeth Rose
    May 5, 2015

    The shoe thing indeed! I know no one is inspecting, but I just FEEL like everyone is staring at my gnarly ballerina feet. Apparently, even in the States some people expect you to remove your shoes with or without them asking to. So I’ll add the awkward stare they give when you keep your shoes on and they are obviously going to be passive aggressive about it. Hello, simply ask at the beginning instead of waiting for that “oh… do I need to remove my shoes?”

    Other awkward things include:

    Asking how much you bag/lipstick/shoes etc cost only to reply with “must be nice to afford that!” Really? Cue feeling guilt at a great thrift find or a gift or even spending your own hard earned cash.

    People asking how long do you really think you’ll be able to do xyz activity. No, please don’t remind me that getting older is going to be unfun.

    People telling you to eat a donut once in a while because you’re just too healthy. That one hasn’t happened in a while, but still.

    Anyway, sorry for the painfully verbose comment! Today I learned that I am very passionate about things that make us uncomfortable…

    • Amber
      May 5, 2015

      As much as I hate having to remove them, I actually wish there were actual “rules” about it, like in Canada or Japan, where EVERYONE does it, and therefore everyone knows it’s expected – here it’s pretty a 50/50 split between people who insist on it and people who don’t bother about it, and most people don’t just come out and tell you to take your shoes off, so you’re left guessing, and it ends up being a bit like the whole “social kissing” dilemma! It normally doesn’t occur to me to take my shoes off (apart from the whole paranoia about my feet, it just feels a bit over-familiar, and if it’s a party or something, it feels downright weird to be padding around in a nice dress and bare feet!), so there have been quite a few times where I’ve totally failed to pick up on the hints (if there are any), only to notice 20 minutes later (or worse, have someone embarrass me by pointing it out!) that I’m the only person who isn’t barefoot – aaargh!

      Totally agree on the other points, too: I actually hate it when people ask me how much something costs – I was raised with the idea that you don’t ask people stuff like that, and I always find it really awkward, especially if it’s something expensive, and you can tell they’re really shocked by it! Also, YES to the health thing! I got a Fitbit last week, and have had people doing the whole, “Well YOU don’t need to lose weight!” thing, and then acting like I must have an eating disorder or something – I get the same thing if I mention running. I think they mean it as a compliment, but it can come across as quite judgemental, and even when I explain that I’m not trying to lose weight, I just want to improve my fitness, they’ll still say things like, “But you don’t NEED to exercise!” Er, yes, I do – sitting at a desk all day isn’t good for you, no matter what size you are!

  • Bella
    May 5, 2015

    I’m from Canada and not wearing shoes indoors is the custom. However, who always has perfectly done up feet all the time? In winter it’s not too bad, because you will be in socks or tights… But summer is coming up now… And honestly.. I HATE walking bare feet on people’s floors (especially that sometimes their floors aren’t that clean..).
    That’s why I started carrying a pair of socks in my purse… I wear it inside the house instead of being self conscious about my poor pedicure. And dirty floors? Nothing a washing machine can’t solve! It may sound weird but it solved my problem!

    • Amber
      May 5, 2015

      Yeah, this is why I specifically mentioned Canada – I have relatives there, and it seems to be a really big deal for people to always remove shoes. If I know I’m going somewhere that people like shoes to be removed, I’ll sometimes take my slippers (I’m normally wearing a dress, so I’d feel even sillier in socks, and I hate the feel of them on my feet: yes, I’m strange…), but that doesn’t always work out either, because my “slippers” are just soft flats which I only wear in the house, so I’ll still LOOK like I’m wearing shoes, and will then feel the need to keep pointing out that I’m not, which just makes the whole thing even MORE awkward! I don’t think they’d fit in a lcutch bag on a night out, either!

  • Bella
    May 5, 2015

    The socks I get are not ankle length… I don’t know what they are called, but they look like a ballerina’s shoes.. So they kind of look like flats but they are socks.. So they still look decent with a dress. (I love wearing dresses too).
    My pet peeve however, is when you remove your shoes at someone’s house and their dog starts smelling and licking and biting your heels.. Like seriously?? That’s when i’d be staring at my heels trying to control the rage inside of me. The awkward part is to find a”nice” way to say “GET YOUR DOG OFF MY SHOES” (because you know…I better say it in a “nice” way since I’m …Canadian).

    BTW I thought Europe has the same custom of removing your shoes indoor. I’m surprised you don’t!

    • Amber
      May 5, 2015

      It might be the custom in some countries, but not in the UK – some people do it, some don’t: it makes it hard to know what’s going to be expected!

  • Justine
    May 5, 2015

    I live in the U.S. and I anticipate removing my shoes whenever I visit a home with young children or anybody who doesn’t self-identify as “white.” Infants and toddlers put everything in their mouths! Removing footwear is customary in many Asian, Indian, Arab, Middle Eastern, African, and Caribbean cultures.

    In East Asia, hosts provides slippers for guests. Guests are expected to wear the slippers. Usually they’re plastic, rubber, or woven cloth. Fuzzy slippers are rare.

    • Amber
      May 5, 2015

      Yes, I know: as I said, it’s not the custom in the UK, and this was in reference to times when you’re not expecting to be in someone else house 🙂

  • @foreveramber
    May 5, 2015

    It seems I’m not the only one who hates having to take my shoes off without prior warning! http://t.co/KAFK7ImA8f http://t.co/rI9RXGQbY1

  • Stacey
    May 5, 2015

    I always have my own shoes off in my house, because it’s my house and I’m not walking around in shoes unless I have to. This has gotten me the reputation that I insist on shoes being off in my house from my neighbors. So whenever any of my neighbors come over – even if it’s just for a quick drop off of a piece of mail- if I invite them in there’s this huge sigh and a “alright, let me take my shoes off.” Even when I insist that it doesn’t matter, just COME IN ALREADY, they’re still standing on the porch untying shoelaces. So then I end up putting myself down, saying “Really, it doesn’t matter! I’m not that neat I swear!!!! I have two dogs and a cat inside, I don’t care if you wear shoes or not!!!!!” Then they look at my feet, and go “But you aren’t wearing any shoes, and I don’t want to wear any if you aren’t.” And by this point I just want them to leave, because it’s been 10 minutes of fighting if they’re going to wear shoes or not, and they’re taking off their shoes in a really passive-aggressive manner and I don’t want them in my house anymore. (I *might* have some other issues with my neighbors 🙂 )
    As for me going to others’ houses, I live in fear of being surprised with being asked to take off my shoes. I hate my feet ( I hate feet in general. They’re gross.) A couple months ago, I was starting to look at houses. One I looked at had just had new carpet put in, but had the plastic runners where you were supposed to walk. I didn’t know this when I made the appointment to see the house. It was still winter-ish, and I don’t really take the best care of my feet in the winter (don’t upkeep the polish, slack off on the moisturizing) because noone is going to see my nasty feet. I was wearing slip-on shoes without socks, and I got to this house and was let inside. The realtor looks at my shoes and goes “Ohhh, you need to take your shoes off.” So I start bargaining with her like a idiot “What if I just stay on the runner? No? Um…” Realizing I’m out of options, I take off my shoes to reveal my chipped polish, most of it peeled off, a couple of toes that were completely unpainted because the polish had worn off. It was gross to me, I’m sure the realtor didn’t even notice. But I spent the time walking with my toes curled in (That’s probably what was noticed more than anything!)

    As for questions that I get that I *hate* : I’m currently unemployed and half-halfheartedly looking for work (People in my line of work hold on to their jobs until they die at their desks at 1000 years old, then will their jobs to the next of kin). It gets discouraging to either not have any job openings, or actually find a opening but get passed over for it. Hence the half-heartedness. But when people find out that I’m not working, it’s the same question every.single.time – “But…What do you DO all day?” There’s no good answer for that.
    The other question I get all the time is “How TALL are you?” I’m only 5’7, but people treat me like I’ve escaped from a circus freak show. They’ll crane their necks and look up at me in wonder. Then the follow up “I bet you are a good basketball player, aren’t ya?!” They always look disappointed when I tell them that I haven’t played basketball since I was 10, because I had no talent for it. “But, but… you’re soooo TALL!!!” Like that’s the only requirement for playing the sport.

    • Amber
      May 6, 2015

      I’ve had similar battles with people insisting on removing their shoes and acting like they’re doing it for my benefit, when I’ve made it clear that I don’t care… It actually really bothers me, because I want my guests to be comfortable, and I really don’t care whether they have their shoes on or off (or even if they tracked in some dirt or whatever – they’re wooden floors, they clean easily! Also, we have a dog, so it’s not like the floors are always pristine!), but some people act like they’re coming into a museum or something, and that ALSO makes me feel uncomfortable, because I don’t think I’ve ever done anything to imply to them that I’m super-uptight about people walking on my floors or touching my furniture etc. Yes, I like to keep my house clean, and I always clean/tidy if I’m expecting guests (I had always assumed most people do that?), but it’s not like I run around with a disinfectant spray while people are there, or hand out shoe covers at the door, so it bothers me the way some people do a whole, “Ooh, we’re coming into Amber’s super-clean house, we better be on our best behaviour!” thing – I’m REALLY not like that, and I hate that people assume I am! I remember last year when we were doing work on the hall and kitchen, people STILL insisted on removing their shoes, even although the house was like an absolute bombsite – I mean, the floors were literally coated with ACTUAL dirt and building debris. I don’t wear shoes in my own house either, but I did while that was all going on, because who wants to walk barefoot over a building site? Er, quite a lot of my guests, apparently, despite me insisting that it would be safer if they kept their shoes on!

  • Jess Heart
    May 6, 2015

    I totally agree on the restaurant one! It’s gross having to reply to a waiter/waitress with food in your mouth and then when you do, you end up slobbering all over the place! It’s like being at the dentist and having them talk to you with some machine stuck in your mouth.

    http://www.essibell.blogspot.com

  • Myra
    May 6, 2015

    One really great thing about getting old is that you care much less about you are seen by others and you are less embarrassed about everything, eg when I fell dramatically at a hotel pool in Jamacia people rushed to help me up. My daughter wanted to know if I was really embarrassed (NO, I was hurting) as she was, in my behalf lol

  • Corinne
    May 6, 2015

    I really want to write a post like this! I hate it when there’s the TV on or something when you have company. A lot of my friends will suggest watching a film when having friends over but I’d rather just put some music on low or some easy to watch background show from E4 so we can talk and catch up.

    Same in the car. I always turn my music down low so it doesn’t over power the conversation. Unless my housemates and I are singing our hearts out to Taylor Swift 😀

    Corinne x

    • Amber
      May 6, 2015

      Yeah, I don’t really like going to visit someone in order to watch TV or something – if I’m going to watch a movie, I don’t want people talking through it, and if I’m going to visit friends, I want to talk to them, so it always seems a bit pointless, really! I actually suspect I have a mild hearing issue which makes it hard for me to tune-out background noise, though – my hearing is pretty sharp for everything else, but if there’s a lot of background noise I’ll spend all my time going, “WHAT? WHAT?”

  • Harlow Darling
    May 6, 2015

    I specifically AVOID the restaurants where I know the waiters will come up to me the second I have food in my mouth and expect me to tell them how much I am enjoying my meal. Nope! Thanks for ruining the meal for me and making me almost choke!
    And yes, people who compliment you while putting themselves down. That example you gave is basically the conversation I have every time I see any friend or family member on my partners side…I MEAN HOW ARE YOU EVEN SUPPOSED TO RESPOND TO A COMMENT LIKE THAT? If you have an answer, please let me know!

  • Haha…so true AmberQ You got the best topics, seriously 🙂 The shoe thing is one of my fave and so is the waiter arriving at your table while you are eating. Hellooo??? Makes me fell like a clumsy cow every time with bad manners. Although its actually very inconsiderate on their part, right? And the shoes? except when visiting my friends in Japan I hate it. Smelly feet? So I have taken up carrying my own ballerina flats with me to wear so there! Have a great day! Sabina | Oceanblue Style

  • Sarah Rooftops
    May 7, 2015

    Cor, this shoe thing seems to have hit a nerve…

    As for the waiters, one once told me they did it on purpose because people can’t complain when their mouths are full of food. No idea if that’s true or not (but it is exactly what *I* would do, if *I* was a waiter…).

  • Moni
    May 7, 2015

    I can totally relate to the “people talking in cars” issue.
    In fact, there doesn’t even have to be music involved. Most cars today seem to be designed in a way that sounds from the front seats don’t carry to the back, so somebody sitting in the backseat always has to lean forward to understand what is being said. This means you’re either physically uncomfortable from sitting in an awkward position the whole time or emotionally uncomfortable from feeling left out. A classic lose-lose situation. 🙁

  • Trudy
    May 9, 2015

    Haha! I had to laugh at the middle seat in the car one, because I can so relate to that! As a very small person (5’1″) I nearly always get the middle seat. Quite frankly though, in a full car there are no comfortable seats, and I am guaranteed to end up sitting next to a male who is a ‘spreader’. Wherever you are sitting this just makes it awkward. Why do guys do this??!

  • Jessica Lee
    May 19, 2015

    I’m from South East Asia and normally we offer ourselves to take our shoes off. Back in the old days, people in my region used to have ‘Joglo’, houses made of woods sitting higher than the grounds, no brick and all, and the culture was that we took our sandals off when entering the houses.
    Now we have modern houses built from bricks and simpler joglo in front of the main houses. So for politeness & cultural sake, we usually just pretend to take the shoes off until the host forbids us. Usually by saying: “Oh! Just wear them! My house is dirty etc etc” while actually their house is so clean & is furnished with white shinning beautiful marbled tiles!
    The dilemma is: to take off or to wear? XD

    • Amber
      May 19, 2015

      As I said, I’m aware that other cultures have specific rules about this – here in the UK, though, there aren’t rules about it, so you never really know what will be expected. I was mostly talking about situations where you weren’t expecting to remove your shoes, though – as in, you’re out at a bar or something and someone suggests going back to their place afterwards. Your feet are all hot and sweaty from dancing and standing around all night, you’re not carrying slippers or spare socks with you (because you weren’t expecting to remove your shoes and you just have a tiny clutch bag with you), then you have to expose them to everyone, knowing they probably stink – it can be really embarrassing if you’re at all self-conscious!

  • Katie
    May 19, 2015

    Oh, you had me at the first one! Definitely agree with them all though…
    It also really bugs me when people walk into a room practically shouting down the phone so we hear all their conversation… I just think it’s rude xD Go talk to that person somewhere else and not where we’re trying to watch the telly! Sadly happens a lot in my flat.

  • Suzanne
    October 14, 2015

    I HATE the whole car chatting thing when you can’t hear what the forward passengers, but I’ve managed to surpass that recently when visiting my partner’s family. His Dad is Chinese and doesn’t speak English, so they chat away in Cantonese. His sister in law is from France and speaks to her daughter only in French. I sit in the corner like a spare part, feeling even more socially awkward than usual. THEN I start to think they must be talking about me.

    It’s not unheard of for me to go to bed at 9pm to escape it. I realise that sounds awful, but it makes me so uncomfortable and then everyone thinks I’m rude and standoffish because I’m mute. I’m already rubbish with people I don’t know well, but this situation just makes me seem even more weird than usual!

    • Amber
      October 14, 2015

      I know the feeling: Terry’s family are Greek, and they’re pretty good about using English when I’m around, but there are always times when someone who doesn’t speak English comes to visit, and then it’s all-Greek-all-the-time, and I’m just sitting there thinking, “They are SO talking about me…”

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