I’ve avoided eye contact for so many years, I can’t remember when exactly it started. It’s undoubtedly associated with my long running low self esteem. That may be changing, though.
Whether I was walking down the halls of my high school. Or down the 16th St. Mall in Denver, I rarely make eye contact with people. Looking down has always been my M.O. It’s safe. I don’t have to let anyone in. If I look at them, they’ll see how unhappy I am. When I was a little kid, I remember hearing from someone that “The eyes are the windows to the soul”. I took that to heart. There was no way I was going to let someone see into my soul. And so, with a lot of things with me, it became habit.
I have been noticing that this may be changing. While meeting with potential roommates, I have been making eye contact more than I typically do. I still look off into the distance when I have to give something I want to say a second more thought. My counselor has called me “a very deliberant speaker”. I hadn’t noticed it before she said that. But, I suppose I am.
Personally, I think looking away at something to think about the next thing I want to say has something to do with social anxiety. In situations where there is a lot of visual distractions and/or is stressful, I find that I can’t think of what I want to say. If I’m looking directly at someone, I find that sometimes I have to look over their shoulder or perhaps a little further left and up to gather my thoughts.
I’m hopeful that while I still look away from time to time. At least I’m spending more time looking up at their eyes. And less time looking at my feet.