Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Comfort in distance...or is it?

I've often wondered what is it that causes us do break down the distance between ourselves and others...a distance that is often very comfortable. The distance is expected, at least in our society (the U.S.), however, I didn't grow up in this society, so I often times trespass on this gap between myself and those that cross my path.

I'm very much into eye contact. I've no idea why. I recall a friend in college...well, he wasn't a friend the first time I met him, but he became one soon after. I recall his eyes meeting mine and seeing the most sadness and loneliness I'd ever seen. In a school of over 50,000 students...how could someone be lonely? Oh yes...the established distance thing.

Anyhow, not being shy and often times speaking my mind, I marched right up to him, introduced myself, and asked if he wanted to grab some lunch. Lunch, at this point in my life, usually consisted of a two dollar calzone at one of the many food stands that surrounded the campus.

I remember my church being the closest people in my life at that time. Even there, I still kept a very healthy distance between the real me, and what I thought others could handle seeing...that was cool with me, and very comfortable. Many said that they shared things with me that they had never shared with anyone except God. "Bizarre," I thought to myself, "they don't like sharing what they don't like about themselves with someone who already knows it's there...". I never did understand the masks that folks put on before themselves and their beliefs...honesty between themselves and God would seem to be a good foundation, aye?

More recently, a coworker opened up to me. He is a really great person, and has no idea of that. He so fears rejection, that he's not letting others see the real him. But I see the real him, and it's not near the downer that he expected. I forgot to mention that I trespassed on his comfortable buffer zone, but I'm sure you'd of figured that out by now.

Physcially, if we all have a 3 foot bubble zone, I've decided mine is about an inch. That could be from growing up in Japan. Intellectually (or even spiritually), I think our buffer zone is much larger. Mine is again, about an inch. This doesn't mean I share everything about myself with other folks...but when asked, I've no problem unmasking what I have to say. I've definately decided that a tactful, honest approach is so much better than a sugar-coated, sythetic answer that most give.

Do I want to be accepted, etc.? Of course I do. But I want to be accepted for who I am and for whom I'm trying to become, not someone that I'm not nor any desire of ever becoming.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Invading other people's space (mental and physical) can be very threatening to them. I tend to make a lot of eye contact with people I know/like. It's more fleeting contact with strangers.

And I agree, I'd rather have someone see me for who I am than some facet of myself.

Cheers to you for figuring all of this out and for stepping in other people's comfort zones. I'm sure your world is better for it.