I am a PhD student with a very difficult colleague - someone I thought was just socially inept, and rude. I was always friendly, giving her the benefit of the doubt, even though she offended me and others on a constant basis with her privileged, superiority complex. On paper, she looks brilliant - she has had many educational opportunities that my parents couldn't afford - something that has made her unbelievably unaware of experiences not her own.
After many derogatory and humiliating comments, I eventually started ignoring her quite a bit - she would never respond to my hellos, would interrupt me in class, laugh when I didn't know a scholar she brought up, etc. It was taking energy to be kind and outgoing to her. Her demeaning behavior was obvious to many, but because she is my classmate, I see her the most. After seeking guidance from mental health professionals, I decided to no longer be upset by her, but also not entertain her behavior. I blocked her out as much as I could, while trying to maintain professionalism.
Granted, there may have been a few times when I questioned her in class - asking for clarification or further explanations into her method of thinking. As PhD students, I am under the impression that we should be able to defend our research, and my professors never said anything to me about the questions I asked.
However, very recently a few professors approached me about "tension" between us. They informed me that this girl has complained about me to them. She apparently has discussed me often, even going as far to say that I "trigger" her. I am shocked. I have never said anything to my professors about her, even though she has offended me several times. I am friends with almost everyone in the program, while she has isolated herself.
I now am feeling extremely insecure, and painted in a very negative light. Professors are suggesting that I meet with her, and show her my "softer" side - I'm from the East coast, we can get a bit...intense. They are encouraging me to reach out to her and comfort her. However, I have been kind to her from the beginning, only recently trying to ignore her toxic attitude. I'm not sure what to do, or how to go about this.