Do you ever have those super awkward moments where you just want to become invisible? You know the ones I’m talking about. You show up at the mailbox in your apartment building at the same time as one of your neighbors four days in a row. Awkward! It’s especially uncomfortable if it’s your super gorgeous hunky neighbor who just moved in a couple of weeks ago and you’ve been secretly drooling over him since you first spied him sauntering into the building. You don’t want to appear as though you coincidentally, accidentally-on-purpose, met him there when it truly was a completely unplanned meeting. If you’re staking him out, and planned it, that’s one thing, but when it’s truly innocent, that’s when you want to swallow a vial of invisible ink and vanish, right?
Seriously, you can only make so much small talk. Even worse, though, is when neither of you say anything. You can pretend that you don’t see the other person when they are standing two feet away from you, sliding their key into their mailbox. But, somehow, that feels wrong. Yet, on the other hand, being too chatty and friendly can seem too forward (not to mention annoying). So, you probably want to land somewhere in the middle. Now you are left with niceties, like, “Hi, how ya doin’?” “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” etc.
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Once you sort of know your neighbors, the trip to the mailbox can be fun: You never know which friend you are going to run into. You start to actually talk about real things during the encounters and they become just normal moments in your day. However, until you reach that time, use your best judgment. You can usually tell when people don’t want to interact with you.
Another uncomfortable moment is when you and a neighbor arrive at the same entrance to the apartment building as you do. I like to call this playing “doorsies.” It begins with the dance of who opens the door, who walks through first, whether one of you thanks the other or in any way greets the other.
I used to get irritated when I would open and hold the door for other people, usually older folks who looked like the effort involved in pulling the door open might take all of their strength, and they wouldn’t say ”thank you” to me. I used to think that was rude. In my mind, I had extended them a courtesy and the least they could do (again, in my mind) was smile, or acknowledge me in some way. It bothered me so much that I got to a point where I would mutter, “you’re welcome” under my breath after they would pass through the door I held open specifically for them.
Then, one day, I mentioned to my husband how much it annoyed me when people would walk through the door I was holding open and they wouldn’t, in any way, acknowledge my kindness. What he said completely changed my outlook on this issue. He said, “I don’t hold a door open for someone because I expect a thank you, I do it because it’s the right thing to do.” Huh. That left me speechless: The. Right. Thing. To. Do. Ever since that day, whenever I have an opportunity to hold the door for someone else, I jump on it and do it because it’s the right thing to do, without any expectation of being thanked. Now, when someone does thank me, I am pleasantly surprised and if they don’t say a word or acknowledge me in any way, I truly don’t care. I did the right thing, and that’s all that matters to me. I used to get invested in the outcome, and now that I don’t care, it’s been freeing.
Since I have adopted this approach to life, when I find myself in one of those awkward situations, I just go with it. Instead of getting nervous or irritated or uncomfortable in any way, I trust myself to be myself and be in the moment. I do the right thing (because it’s the right thing to do) and don’t care about the outcome. Try it sometime, it could well change your life as it did mine!