Thursday, February 21, 2013

Looking Them in the Eyes

I used to say that my eye injury when I was three years old never had any serious impact on my life. But now I'm not so sure about that. Since my eye surgery, I've had reason to re-consider, and I think maybe it HAS affected my life, in very subtle ways.

All of our interactions with other living creatures-- human and animal-- begin with the eyes, right? Avoid eye contact with an aggressive dog, they say, unless you want your face chewed off. Talking to humans, if you maintain eye contact you take charge of the situation. Looking someone in the eyes gives the impression of confidence and strength, whether you're trying to intimidate or charm.

We think of people who don't look you in the eye as weak or untrustworthy or insecure or shifty. And even though our eyes are just organs connected to our brain, we still use them in gauging a person's attractiveness-- we're captivated by "nice eyes", and even though eyes are (technically) incapable in and of themselves of displaying emotion, we convince ourselves that we can see love there, or anger, or pain.

All of this is probably pretty obvious to most of you, those of you who have always had "normal" eyes. You probably take it for granted. But I've noticed since my surgery, and since the swelling has gone down and the redness has begun to dissipate, people seem to be reacting to me differently, more positively. And I think it's because I'm actually looking them in the eyes, with BOTH of mine.

You can tell yourself differently all you want but you'd be less than honest if you didn't admit that a big part of how you feel about yourself is tied up in how other people react to you. I'm not going to get into a big thing about self-esteem and self-doubt (two states of being that a lot of writers and artists tend to experience in extremes), but I will say that a huge chunk of it depends on how able you are to look them in the eye. It's how you get the job, how you snag the pretty girl (or guy, depending on your preference...), how you win the argument. It's all in the eyes.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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