Something in my social interaction/internal regulator is malfunctioning, and has been for a long time. I think, perhaps in self-delusion, that I can read body language fairly well. But I seem very bad at picking up clues to expected behavior patterns.

Which is to say, half the time I’m being rebuked for not acting aggressively enough on a problem, and half the time I’m getting this extremely frustrating kind of comment: “Well, Alice, I was surprised to hear that you did XYZ. Normally I wouldn’t expect a junior resident to do that kind of thing. I guess it worked out ok, but it seems rather. . . assertive.”

It happens more at this children’s hospital, but I get it at my home hospital too (and boy am I homesick for that place). I would really like to go with the theory that the men can’t handle a woman being appropriately tenacious (supported by the fact that I seem to get along ok with the female attendings and senior residents, and get these comments more from the guys), but I hate to disregard the suggestion that I’m doing something wrong without further consideration.

So I consider, and then I get in trouble for not acting fast enough or firmly enough. . .

I have to do what I think is right and necessary, because then I don’t feel guilty. Rubbing people the wrong way is not really a sin; failing to fulfill a responsibility is (to my mind).

That, and wait for the day when I won’t be a junior resident anymore; then maybe finally I won’t have so many chances to be out of line. Or wait for a closer mark, the day when I get out of this top-heavy, academically hide-bound, hierarchy-driven, dysfunctional hospital. (I said I was homesick; my home hospital never seemed so efficient, friendly, rational, and lovable, as when seen from this remove.)

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