A couple times this week a co-worker (more like a superior, you could say) has pointed out to me that I'm too serious.
While at the press conference on Wednesday, said superior named V noticed me standing around looking aloof and said, "The other day we [she, my boss, and another co-worker] were talking and we all had the impression that you seem really shy for some reason. But there's really no need for you to be shy with us. So don't be so shy, ok?"
Then this morning I arrived at the office and since I had a task left over from yesterday, I sat down at a computer and got right to work. The other interns were working too, but they were also having a lively chat about this and that. V noticed that I was focused on my work and wasn't involved in the conversation, and she jokingly remarked, "Danielle, she's too serious! She doesn't talk, she comes in and just gets right to work, etc."
Believe it or not, these exchanges at work are two of a number of reminders that I've received in the past week or so about me being too serious. One evening last week R-M arrived at the apartment and came to greet me in my room while I was busy writing something. We were just talking casually about how each other's day went, when she suddenly sat on my bed and started telling me about how I'm a good person, how whether or not people love themselves is what matters most, and how I'm too young to be staying in as much has I do, working so hard, and taking assignments and such so seriously.
I kind of feel bad when people feel the need to say things like this to me, because it's not my intention to be cold or distant with them. It's just my personality. I am shy, and I am a serious person. I can't help it. Sorry. But it's funny because while this is a personal issue of mine, I'm learning that it might also be an American thing. Last night I was reading the "parents and children" section of Évidences invisibles, and basically Carroll was saying that while French people tend to experience much stricter and more structured upbringings, they are given space to embrace their freedom and do what they want as adolescents and young adults. In the American case, people tend to have more freedom to play and explore as children, while later on they face a certain pressure to shape up and make something of themselves as they enter adulthood. As a result, French twentysomethings often remark that their American counterparts are "too serious" (trop sérieux). Isn't that something?
Anywho. My point in all this is to say that while it's uncomfortable to have my character flaws being repeatedly thrown in my face, I really do appreciate having kind people around me encouraging me to lighten up and loosen up. As you might have already guessed, "relax" isn't a word I use often, in speech or in practice. I can only be myself, but I'll try to take R-M and V's advice.