The Smaller Things Count

Giordanis Guerrero’s Essay
Black Couple Holding Hands by Adobe Stock

I am obsessed with looking people right in the eyes whenever I’m having a conversation with them. Some of you probably immediately thought how awkward that may feel… for the other person, that is, because I don’t find it weird. Not one bit. If anything, it’s quite sad that most people feel such a way. Looking at someone simply signifies attention, something I treat as an intrinsic right for all. Doesn’t it feel off when you’re talking to someone, and they don’t really seem to care about what you’re saying? But doesn’t it feel so good when there’s clear engagement and discussion?!

I was actually out for dinner late last night with a great friend of mine, right by midtown. We’re enjoying ourselves, having a great time, and in mid conversation he pauses to say, “Stop with the captivation! We’ve barely even touched our food,” referring to the consistent eye contact I kept giving him as he went on this spiel about his day. It made him want to go on and on, and as someone who listens to just about anything, I let it continue. It made me feel intrigued about the things he had to say, while it made him feel confident in knowing that he had someone to genuinely express himself with. With that said, all I want is the other person to know that I am fully present and fully theirs in whatever moment we find ourselves in. No matter what.

Now, I must admit that, as much as I do this for the other person, I also do it for myself. My friends never believe me when I say this, but I can be so shy and awkward when you first interact with me. As big as a people person that I am, people I don’t know scare me! I get highly insecure and begin thinking that I may not be cool enough for them, or I may not fit their interests in a friend – and none of that is ever the case. Providing eye contact doesn’t only make others feel more comfortable and welcomed; it also allows me to feel those same emotions. It’s almost as if my body has created a mechanism to aid me in my timidity. And to add to the joy, when I am in continuous engagement with others, it pushes them to do the same for me. The amount of attention and importance I give someone is, hopefully, the same amount of attention and importance I’ll get in return. I’m not one to expect anything from anyone, and I don’t like to be selfish (even if it’s the healthy kind), but it sure makes me feel better overall.

It’s insane to realize how something as small as eye contact helps me break barriers and build connections almost immediately. I believe it’s vital to recognize this because your body knows just what it’s doing. Many of us tend to ignore our primary instincts and gut feelings even though they are in a specific design to let us know about things. I, for one, tend to ignore those emotions, even though they’re always right. Over time, I’ve learned not to ignore them but to embrace them. They’re there for a reason. And doing so has helped me build more self-confidence and self-love because it reassures me that I know what I’m doing. Even if I don’t know what I’m doing, at least I’m trying. And all we need to make the world a better place is a little bit of effort.