Thursday, June 6, 2013

Are You a Snob or Just Distracted or Shy?-

In the part of Texas where I live, it is customary for drivers who meet each other on the road to wave at each other.  Many of them wave with just one finger, the index finger, as they grip the steering wheel.  They make a slight motion of the first finger and look at the other driver.  It is a recognition that someone is in that other car that is meeting them on the highway.  It is a friendly gesture, I think, even if you do not know the other driver you are meeting.

If you happen to meet another car and you think you know the driver of that car and they do not return the favor of a wave, then often the waver begins to think that the other driver is unfriendly or irritated about something or perhaps even trying to be a snob, "high-hatting" the waver, as they call it around here.  It may be that the driver who did not wave was distracted, perhaps looking at the highway intensely, or at a field of hay or cattle, because those things do catch the interest of many rural folks.  It may be that they did not recognize the one waving at them so they did not wave back, although common courtesy around here is to wave at everyone, even if you don't know them.  Or it could be that they really are being a snob.

I know a snob or two, people who do know who you are but refuse to talk to you in public or acknowledge your presence on the highway or in social gatherings.  For some reason, they never learned about common courtesy or social skills that would gather them friends.  We just have to admit that there are some people who think themselves better than others.  We all know them.  I have worked with a few of them over the years.  They are in every place, even in small rural ranching and farming communities as well as in large cities.

If we want to give snobby people the benefit of the doubt, then we may decide that they are just shy.  I can empathize with them.  I grew up as a shy person.  I was incredibly shy most of my growing up experience and into my young adulthood.  I was so shy that I would not talk to my friends in public much less people that I thought may not like me.  I was so shy that I would hide if I saw a teacher or other public figure coming my way in a grocery store.  I fought the battle of shyness all through school until the 11th grade when I did something that shy people almost never do.  I signed up to be in Speech Class, the kind of class where you have to stand up in front of your peers and give speeches on an assigned topic.  Why I took that risk is beyond me but it worked to help me get out of much of my shyness.  I went from that point to being in the Drama Club and appearing in plays.  Something clicked to make me get beyond my shy personality.

So, maybe some of the people that we think are being snobby are really shy people.  They may not know what to say to someone so they would rather say nothing.  They may be afraid that they will say the wrong thing and be embarrassed so they keep silent.  They may think that what they have to say is not as important as what others say so they share nothing with the group.  They may not be able to relate to what others say or do because their insecurity is a prison that they have lived in all their lives and they do not know how to break out of it.

Or they could be snobs.....My mother used to quote something to me that she declared was in the Bible.  I cannot locate it in the Bible but she said, "To have friends, you must show yourself to be friendly."  I think what that means is that if you want to have people to be your friends, you must interact with them.  You have to talk to them, to see what is important to them, to discuss things with them, even to talk about the weather.  You have to be around people, though, and care about what matters to them in some way.

Relationships evolve.  They do not just happen one day out of nowhere, normally.  They take time and effort on the parts of all concerned.  The more time people spend getting to know each other, the closer they generally feel toward each other.  The circle of friendship expands as people bring others into it.  That happens as people open up areas of their lives to others so that they can peek in the windows that they had previously kept shut.  Some people are not able to open their windows of their lives so that others can see in.  They have had them closed for so long that they are tightly stuck shut.  It is risk taking to open up our lives and allow others to look in at what we have kept hidden.  We never know what their reaction will be to what has been revealed.  Once the light begins to shine in the hidden places, however, light brings warmth and the warmth warms up relationships that have never been developed before.

So, let the light in as you take the time to get to know others.  The rewards far outnumber the risks.

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