I can’t pinpoint when it all started. I don’t know if it stemmed from childhood, or some strange habit that I acquired. Somewhere or somehow, I decided that I did not like hugs. More accurately, any physical contact.
I try to be pretty upfront about it. Professionally, I make it a point to be the first to put my hand out for a handshake. Personally, I wave goodbye from distance that would make a hug a little difficult. Yet somehow, hugs still happen. Many times, they end up being awkward.
The stories end up being entertaining, so I thought I’d share some of my awkward hugs:
1. I was saying goodbye to a couple of friends. The guy is pretty tall, and he thought that my wave was insufficient. I am a very short person. Put us together and it makes for a funny moment. He had to come down like he was hugging a child. I felt like I was 5 years old hugging my dad.
2. In college, a guy friend decided to give me a Valentine’s Day gift. I didn’t expect it and was genuinely surprised. He proceeded to give me a hug, and at that exactly moment, I began to jump up and down out of giddyness. I ended up head butting his chin. He had to sit down, and I assume it’s because I made him a little dizzy.
3. At a conference, I meet a group of vendors that I had been working remotely for the first time. Without a word, one of the techs grabbed me in a bear hug and twirled me around. His reason? I was so little and cute, that he “had to”.
4. A long time vendor came to the office for a visit. I put out my hand to shake his. He also stuck his hand out, but also leaned in. I got confused. He was much too old to go into a “bro” hug. What was he doing ?
I leaned and suddenly thought he was going in for a European type greeting where you kiss on the cheek. I didn’t want to kiss him, so I leaned in and for some reason, made an exaggerated kissing sound , but no contact to the cheek. The guy didn’t kiss me, and only touched me cheek to cheek.
My coworker was horrified. He witnessed the whole awkward thing.
5. An acquaintance at a conference came to greet me. He was also quite tall and big. I saw him (slow motion in my mind) make the exaggerated initiation of a two armed hug.
I guess I didn’t hide the look of horror on my face well enough. Upon noticing it, he looped his arms in a weird circular motion. He ended up holding his hands out in front of him: palms up, cupped, as if to receive something.
I had no idea what to do. So I placed my hands above his, waiting. After excruciating silence, I spoke:
“So, what are we doing exactly?”
“Uh, I started out with a hug and then I saw the look on your face. You didn’t look like you wanted a hug. I was already in mid movement so I just kind of held my hands out.”
“Oh. I thought you wanted to play that fast hand slapping game or something.”
“So instead you decided to present your hands out like a bowl?”
“Uh yes, I guess so. I didn’t know what else to do.”
Our hands were still touching during that entire conversation. Finally, we both moved our hands back to our sides, with only awkward silence between us.
These are just a handful of situations that I’ve encountered. It’s funny to think that someone can experience so much awkwardness, but it happens more often than I care to admit.
Perhaps it’s my own thoughts that are the cause. I can’t seem to get over casual hugs. For me, hugs are an intimate act of care that I only do for certain family members, special occasions or friends that I haven’t seen or will not see for a while. People think it’s strange, but it isn’t if you’re someone who doesn’t want much physical contact. I cannot be a casual hugger.