You then see these people as closer to your level, rather than them being on a pedestal and you feeling you're a walking example of lame, awkward unworthiness that's lucky to even be talking to them. If you know someone is mean-spirited or gossipy you're going to be on guard around them.
That's not an unreasonable concern, but sometimes we can be overly cautious around people who appear 'tough'.
It's one thing if someone really is in a gang, or they've been known to mug people at their school, but often people will dress and act in a tough way when they're really not that bad.
They can be scary in their own right because you worry you'll do or say something stupid around them and they'll call you out on it.
This is sometimes more of a problem for people when they're still in high school, when all kinds of students are mixed together and they may run into characters like this.
A lot of employees are intimidated by their managers, or students by their professors.
Someone may also be nervous around police officers, high-status professionals like doctors and lawyers, religious authorities, or employees who have power in a particular establishment, like bouncers or bartenders.
Like they may start getting weak in the knees when they have to talk to someone at their school who drinks under age, occasionally skips classes, and who once tagged a mailbox with a marker.
In this case someone may need to just get more experience with the world and see that tons of otherwise good, nice people often skirt the rules in one way or another.
But if they've done it twenty times in the past already a lot of the fear will have evaporated.