Eye contact is a very hard thing for me, even with people that are close to me or family. I find it awkward to talk to someone and look them in the eyes. Like they are talking to me thinking “why is he just staring at me”?
When I first started working at a local hospital years ago, I would walk through the halls with my head down do my best to avoid eye contact and small talk. This was a challenge since my job involved making contact with almost everyone I came across due to the roll I played there. My job was to interact, direct people, maintain the safety of staff and visitors, but I couldn’t get myself to look up unless contacted by someone first.
I owe a tremendous amount to a few of my co-workers that took the time to help me. One in specific took the time to talk to me and ask why I was walking around with my head down. I wasn’t diagnosed at that time so I just did my best to explain. He told me that I had to walk with my head up and be alert, in our job you couldn’t be surprised by someone and you needed to be vigilant. He told me to just look past the person but make note of the people you are around and maybe focus on their forehead. He would see me in passing and if I was head down, just whisper head up and keep walking. It didn’t take too long to adjust to and his advice helped. It created a different me, at work anyway. It was like it created a “work mode” and the switch would flip on and I could do my job confidently.
Eye contact outside of work was still a challenge. I became more aware of my surroundings but still felt like I was caught if someone made eye contact back and I didn’t know what to do. Panic set in and I just start looking everywhere like oh, you just happened to catch eye contact at the same time by luck.
I have gotten much better as time has gone by but no matter the length of time, I can’t do direct eye contact. My eyes are always wandering and watching everything that is going on. If I talk to someone I look past them or at their neck or forehead. I don’t know if people notice it but they will continue on like it’s no problem.
Does the ability of making direct eye contact ever become a thing? Does it get easier the older I get?