I have a hard time when I’m forced to be in close physical proximity with people I’m uncomfortable with. I’m not talking about dislike; I don’t dislike many people, and those I do present little or no obstacle to my ‘personal bubble.’
What I’m referring to is people whose nearness causes physical discomfort for me, in some cases actual repulsion. I might have no logical reason for these feelings, and they might be likeable people. But for some reason my body doesn’t want to be near theirs; my senses don’t want to perceive their presence. My normal radius of personal space increases for these people. There seems to be an overall sense of “Eww!”, regardless of how hygenic and well-dressed they are. I might avoid direct eye contact or anything that might encourage them to draw nearer.
I realize that my reaction to these people is my issue. Quite honestly there have been times when I’ve later learned that my ‘gut feelings’ were dead-on. It’s true that I’m very sensitive to nuance and pick up on things that average folks don’t. I’m not willing to ignore the feelings I have when certain people get too close to me. I’m also not willing to betray my personal space.
On the flip side, in theory I believe that each person’s, well, person-hood, should be affirmed and validated. Their contribution to whatever relevant community acknowledged. The word ostracisism should itself be ostracised. I know what it’s like for people to mistake my intentions (or correctly guess them!) and feel “eww” towards me. Or for them to be turned off by some silly manner of behaviour of mine. Or just be grossed out, period, by who knows what about me…those feelings are just sinking and awful. I don’t want to help re-create that for someone else.
I know I don’t have the energy or internal resources to proactively validate everyone’s humanity. My struggle lies in finding ways to affirm my own feelings & instincts without causing a sense of alienation in the other party. Can I show basic human decency even while holding these feelings of “eww?” Is “community” possible, even in small-scale scenarios, when such anti-other feelings are present?
For whatever it’s worth,