Dealing with Staring
Okay, so let’s be honest, being stared at isn’t great and when someone stares, it is, amongst other things, an invasion of privacy.
I have certainly smiled to myself when people are so busy staring at me that they walk into trees, shop displays, each other…etc.! I understand that it’s curiosity, but, come on, there is definitely a cut-off point; curiosity turns into rudeness when the staring doesn’t stop. Some days I notice it more than others and in the same way, some people notice me more than others.
There are ways of dealing with it that I have learnt over the years. I can stare back, smile, or choose to ignore it. Depending upon my mood I choose any one of these. When I was a child, my parents used to simply stare back – I assume that this was to deter the person that was staring and to perhaps impose the feeling of being stared at.
As I became older, I actually found this strategy to be almost aggressive. I realised that to stare back all the time sometimes made a bad situation worse; the person concerned usually looked away in embarrassment which subsequently made me feel difficult, so we both ended up losing. So I started to test out different responses, and I have noticed that smiling is often an excellent way to make the awkward situation easier for both parties, although I think that it requires a deep breath and practice, as smiling may well be the last thing you feel like doing.
Also, I think I subconsciously time how long I am being stared at, which may sound odd, but my reactions have become pretty ingrained, and I rarely stop to think about how I handle certain situations. If I am stared at for a few seconds, I would probably smile, then if I was greeted with a smile in return it’s a case of “job done”! However, if smiling doesn’t work and the staring continues, my smile may well turn into a wide eyed stare. Then after that, I may well decide that I have better things to do and walk away.
It is perfectly okay to walk away – if I don’t feel like dealing with it then I won’t. Sometimes, I know that people are staring but I just carry on walking and pretend not to notice, or I might glance in their direction to let them know that I was aware of their stares and then carry on with my day.
Dealing with staring is inevitably challenging, but I think that finding strategies that facilitate positive coping is of utmost importance; I have certainly become a good problem solver! I ask myself – what can make me feel better about particular situations? Strategies that work in some situations may not work in others, but everyone is different and it’s all about choosing the right strategy for you. Personally, I often compromise between what makes me feel okay and what evokes better responses from others.
If I do feel affected by a bad experience, I usually treat myself – by curling up with a favourite book or engaging in some serious retail therapy! Also, talking it over with people close to me helps and after that, I make a conscious decision not to dwell on it too much or let it prevent me from doing the same things – for example, walking down the high street. To fear these situations would lessen my independence, which for me, would be far scarier than walking down a street; we all have a right to be here.
© Amanda Bates