In the fifth season of The Office, Pam goes with Michael on a speaking tour to all the branches of Dunder Mifflin, including the one managed by Karen (aka Jim’s ex-girlfriend). Pam was the reason Jim broke up with Karen and Pam knows it, so she’s pretty nervous about the meeting. There’s a cutaway interview with Pam where she says, “I hate the idea that someone out there hates me.”
That quote has always stuck with me in a heavy way because it sums up how I’ve felt about so many acquaintance relationships – colleagues, friends-of-friends, people like that – where it seems another person doesn’t have quite the right impression of me. I’m not talking about family members or close friends, people who (hopefully) know you well enough to either dismiss or talk through any problematic misconceptions. I’m talking about people who only know you very shallowly or people you might have had only a couple interactions with who happened to see you in an odd light.
Oftentimes we hear, through a mutual acquaintance, social media, or some other innocent source, that someone we once knew views us in a negative light.