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December 03, 2008 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-12-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

D 0l h ihia ensa,6eebr 20

1 0 0 0 00

I'm sorry. I'm shy.

Ihad gone out one night to a friend
of a friend's house for a small
gathering and I could hear her
housemates commenting quietly
to each other as I left. "I was just
trying to be polite, you know, start
a conversation. She was kind of a
My quiet disposition often elicits
this reaction from those who don't
know me. People tend to find me
intimidating, assume I think the
worst of them, or that I don't care
enough to try to get to know them.
I only know this because most
feel the need to tell me after we've
become friends. "You're not as bad
as I thought you were, you just come
off as mean," they say. "You were
really intimidating before I got to
know you."
I'm thatgirl in your project group
i who does her portion of the work
without uttering a word. I'm that
friend of a friend who just stood
there, arms crossed, failingto make
eye contact. I'm the reason GSIs
actually care about participation
points. I am painfully shy.
The "bitch-factor" problem arises
mostly due to a lack of verbal com-
munication on my part. This leads
others to read the only other social
signals expressed without talking:
body language. A major problem

with this: I frown when thinking.
People often misunderstand the
silence itself, probably because it is
often seen as judgment or superior-
ity. It's the fear that some girls are
silent because they were justtalking
about you or that certain guys chose
not to respond because he thinks
he's above it. My inability to strike
up or even maintain conversation
with new people leads some to label
me snobby, mean, rude or bitchy.
The simple truth is I'm shy
because I'm uncomfortable around
those I don't know well. And it takes
me quite some time to feel I know
someone well. This lack of comfort
extends to the point where I'd rath-
er mentally leave the situation and
gaze around the room thinking -
giving up on finding the right words
instead of trying and speaking the
wrong ones.
I've always been this way. For
as long as I can remember I've had
very few - but close - friends, and
I usually only make new friends
through friends of friends who
become accustomed to my quiet
My friends have often tried
to guess why I am the way I am.
They'll say it's a lack of confidence,
fear of rejection or that I just don't
try. They can't understand how I

can be so open with them buthardly
speak to others.
For me, it's that the words build
their own little towers of multicol-
ored Lego sentences, making one-
sided conversations that never come
to be. I'm somewhat of a perfection-
ist and it's the lack of confidence,
I don't really
hate you. I'm
just that timid
not in myself, but in the chance that
what I say will be satisfactory, that
stops me from speaking. I'm left
high and dry with the words on the
tip of my tongue but without the
damnwill to say them.
This probably stems from grow-
ing up with a talkative, Bronx-bred
Latina mother who knows and is
loved by everyone. She's the kind of
woman who can step into a super-
market checkout line and come out
with three new friends and a party
invitation. Growing up with her, I
didn't feel the need totake the spot-
light in conversations, so I never

During the summer, to the sur-
prise of my friends and family, I
attempted to improve my social
skills by throwing myself into the
lion's den of all small-talk-with-
strangers jobs - I waitressed.
While I worked there only one
summer, I noticed that I had made
noticeably less in tips then the other
servers, and wasn't often given the
area with tge greatest costumer
flow. I think it was because the
other waitresses knewhow to smile
in that way people do when they
greet strangers. It's not to say that
I didn't smile, it's that I didn't have
that outgoing-girl smile. My smiles
being more authentic, they tended
to creep costumers out more than
make them feel welcome. Often
I have been asked "What are you
smiling about?" when taking
While the waitressing experi-
ment failed in some respects (I still
have enormous trouble talking to
people I don't know) it did teach me
a few things. It taught me how to
deal with rude people. I now speak
up when someone is being an ass,
rather than sitting back thinking
about what I'd like to say to them.
Once, inthe parkinglot ofthe res-
taurant, I was almost run over by a
customer's car on my wayinto work.

My manager just happened to have
watched the entire scene unfold.
The customer speedily backed out
of his parking spot without bother-
ing to look behind him. I jumped
out of the way and the car barely
misses me as it continued to zoom
in reverse and hit another car.
My manager later yelled at me,
not because I had almost gotten hit
and should've paid more attention
to crazy customers on their way
out, but because I didn't say any-
thing to her, the man or the police
documenting the fender-bender.
I was almost hit by a car, which
in turn hit another car, and I said
nothing about it to anyone, let alone
the driver. She told me that if I don't
learn to speak up in life, more than
just people in cars would try to run
me over.
Sometimes I imagine how dif-
ferent things would be if I'd always
done what I wanted to do or say
what I'd thought. Maybe I'd have
more friends, better grades, better
jobs. I could be that person head-
ing the group presentation with the
charisma of Oprah Winfrey, but I'm
not. Instead, I'm working on speak-
ing my mind and being myself.
-Zenaida Rivera is the associate
copy chief for The Michigan Daily

From Page 8B
grandparents; 10 points were even
awarded to students coming from
top high schools. Yet, this Supreme
Court ruling did not question the
constitutionality of other admission
policies, such as geography, in this
"I don't understand why race is
[only] talked about in terms of pref-
erence in the admissions process
when athletes and those who have
legacy status are given extra consid-
eration," said Lishaun Francis, Chair
of Students of Color in Public Policy.
"An attack on race and not the other
categories is just racially biased."
In the aftermath of the 2003
Supreme Court decision, the under-
graduate office of admissions
espoused an approach that took
on the policies of the law school's
holistic process. The 2003 deci-
sion appeared as a compromise for
those on all sides of the debate. Yet,
those who sought to end affirmative

action continued on and eventually
Since Prop. 2's implementation
in 2007, ones geographic, legacy or
athletic status, among other factors,
can be counted in the admissions
process. But to be clear, nothing has
changed since 2003 except for the
exclusion of race, ethnicity, gender
or national origin. The tool that
has been used to aid in the Univer-
sity's quest for the ideal education
environment calls upon the late
president Angell's commitment to
prioritizing geographic and socio-
economic factors.
The new system, Descriptor Plus,
is a computer software program
that allows the Office of Admissions
to identify geographic areas as they
correlate with demographics that
are underrepresented at the Univer-
sity. This system provides informa-
tion on the racial and gender break
down of an area, however applica-
tion reviewers are not allowed to
proactively utilize race and gender
information when making decisions
on admissions.

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