Thursday, August 17, 2006

Contemplating Friendliness

I'm not a friendly guy. Just ask my wife.

Okay, I'm friendly. I just don't look friendly. Or necessarily act friendly.

Thing is, being friendly, or at least looking friendly, takes effort. I can't speak for others, but my face just isn't naturally smiley. To lift those corners of the mouth can grow tiresome, so why bother?

And beyond looking friendly, acting friendly...well, that's even harder. It is an act, after all, right? I mean, you have to work at that, too.

"Hey, there, how's it going? Good to see you!"

I feel like a greeter at Wal-Mart or something, except that it is really awkward. It feels fake. Oh, sure, people like it. People are attracted to friendliness. Me? Well, they aren't attracted to me.

It doesn't help, either, that I try to avoid eye contact. I mean, come on. If you make eye contact, you have to either smile, or say something polite, or at least give a faint little nod that says, "Hey, there, hi, there," and be done with it.

It makes me kind of wish this was more like the Asian custom of bowing to greet people. To me, bowing is far easier than smiling. A bow doesn't feel fake.

So, I walk down the sidewalk, or through the halls at work, with my eyes staring at my feet, glancing up just often enough to ensure I don't run into anything or anyone.

But then I feel guilty. What if I pass someone I know? Would it appear like I'm just ignoring them? And just how painful is it really to brighten someone's day with a little smile from a stranger?

I admire those who are naturally peppy, who seem to be perpetally bubbly. How do they do it? Are they really that happy? Is it an act? Are the muscles in their face just sculpted differently? Whatever the reason, I think my wife secretly wishes I were more like that. Because it would reveal some emotion. Well, some positive emotion. Now, she always thinks I'm depressed. Or at least I look depressed. Personally, I prefer to call it "contemplative". Yes, that's it. I'm just thinking about something. Really hard. About being friendly.


Lexie Ward said...

Hi! I've seen you around on BackSpace.
My husband is very shy and often comes across as being unfriendly or snobbish. But he is the kindest, most loving person I know.
I've got plenty of friends whose husbands are big charmers, but who would trade places with me in an instant because their oh-so-friendly-in-public spouse is a real jerk at home.
Sometimes "friendliness" is highly overrated.
Great blog!

RyanBruner said...

Hey, there, hi there, Lexie! Thanks for dropping in. (How's that for being friendly?)

(Yes, folks, Lexie is a fellow "Backspace-ian". Which means she a writer, too!)

Vivian said...

Hi Ryan, *eyes dashing around*

I know what you mean, I have been reminded constantly through my life to smile. I am usually happy, I just don't look it. I have always been jealous of the bubbly people, but honestly I think I would get bored with it because it doesn't feel like there is a lot of substance to it. Anyway, glad to meet ya. *Deep Bow*

Lexie Ward said...

That is a perfectly friendly welcome, Ryan! Thank you.

Vivian: If a person is not naturally bubbly and friendly, it would only come across as being fake if he or she tried to change his or her natural personality. I myself am one of those "perky people," but I enjoy the company and conversation of the more serious and quiet types. In fact, I like to draw them out of their shells and get to know them. But I wouldn't change their personalities a bit. They are who they are, just as I am who I am.

Vivian said...

I apologize, I think that came out all wrong.

Lexie Ward said...

Vivian, I don't know if you'll check this again, but I hope my answer didn't come out all wrong as well. I only meant it in the kindest terms. And I didn't think badly of your post at all. I hope that isn't the way it sounded?!

Pharmamedics said...

Try to come to the mirror and smile, then in several minutes you will feel happy and friendly. We can rule our emotions through physical actions. And people like when someone smeli to them. But do it sincerely. Tell then if it works for you?