Thursday, August 11, 2011

Understanding Personal Space

     After returning from my trip to Europe, I couldn't stop thinking about this one particular subject. It seemed that I was aware of it, but never deeply analyzed it before. This subject is "Personal Space". 
     It occurred to me, that we are often so caught up in our daily lives and routines that we are sometimes blind to our surroundings. For instance, have any of you ever rushed inside an elevator before thinking about the possibility of somebody coming out? Or have you had a conversation in the middle of a busy sidewalk without thinking about all the people that need to get around you? Have you let a door close on an elderly woman whose arms are full of shopping bags? I have witnessed all of the above. I started asking myself, is it selfishness, or are they simply unaware of their surroundings? I made it a point to start watching, observing people and how well they inhabit their personal space, even in low-stake situations. Growing up in New York and usually being in a rush to get from place to place, I learned the art of weaving through people on the sidewalk. This is harder than you think. It takes time to master and it really requires mind-reading. This is much like the art of understanding your surroundings. If you are unable to anticipate another person’s actions, or if you’re simply unaware of the other person, there’s a good chance you’re going to collide with them. As I watched a number of people in line get their food in the busy breakfast hall, I noticed a keen lack of anticipation. Somebody would move to get some eggs then stand there for a minute thinking about what they wanted next, all the while blocking other patrons access to the food. I also noticed someone turning around quickly with orange juice and smashing into someone else, completely unaware of all the other people in the restaurant. I wondered “How is this possible? Didn't she know there were people all around her?”
     Astonished by this, I started to monitor myself, even in really high-stake situations. I wanted to see if I would make little mistakes that were harmful to others. I noticed that sometimes, even though some of us have good intentions, we get so involved in our own tasks that we forget about how we are responsible for our own personal space. We forget that our actions will affect the people around us. As I continued to explore and observe my space; the choices I made, and the people I interacted with in that space, I noticed more opportunity for improvement. I thought, “How will I affect the next person? Might I save them from having a bad experience?” It IS possible to prevent these "Personal Space" mistakes from happening, but you must first be AWARE!
     So why don't we all give it a shot? I'm asking you guys to try to be aware of how well you use your own personal space. Be sure to comment and let me know how it goes. I'm very interested to hear your stories and learn more about this interesting subject!