I am slowly shifting from trying to fit in to finding ways to be kinder to myself. Ways to help myself relax and feel more at ease in this world. And one thing I am experimenting with is making less random eye contact with people.
I don't know why I look at others' eyes so much. I did not do it at all as a child, but as I taught myself to look at others, I grew into the habit of making too much eye contact, even with strangers. Maybe on some level I was thinking that it was a way of acknowledging people, which is a good thing. But then - I seldom find this contact comfortable. And I suspect that my discomfort shows. With the result that I don't feel bad for not wanting to look any more. I am not doing them a favour, and definitely not myself.
This past December I started not looking at people so much when I went out. In crowded places I kept my eyes at about hip height, and in less crowded places, I would deliberately look at the patterns on the floor, the clouds, the cars and their lovely number plates, leaves lying in the street. It is a hard habit to break, looking at people so much. But not looking at them is being kind to myself. The less I look, the more I can focus on what I am doing, where I am going, what I am observing and thinking. And suddenly I enjoy shopping a bit more and find going out less taxing.
Some may see this as a step backwards. I don't. It took me so long to discover that I will never please others by trying so hard to not be myself. And it does not make me happy. I do realise that it may lessen the opportunity for meaningful contact, but the constant discomfort is taking too big a toll. I need to discover more ways to make my life more enjoyable. I am trying to let go of the word 'should'. I am learning that taking care of myself is not the same as being selfish.