Do the eyes have it? Well… we’ll see!
A Take on Mask Wearing and Eye Contact
As you may have noticed recently I posted on social media about my mask wearing experience at work, and that part of the adjustment is still going well, but there’s another part of the experience that I’d like to touch on today, and that’s figuring out how to make eye contact with each other and our masks on. It’s probably the only part of communicating and interacting that anyone of us can read these days that says anything about the meaning behind what we are trying to say as tone of voice often is blocked or muted through the mask, whether we are happy or sad about something is often a mystery with the mask covering that smile that may be behind it or frown underneath due to this experience. Given all that, the only part of wearing a mask and engaging with another person that hasn’t changed is looking each other in the eye or eye contact.
If you squirmed when reading the word “eye contact” you are not alone. It’s hard and often intimidating skill to master for those of us on Autistic spectrum it can be an uncomfortable and squirmy experience to look someone directly in the eye, which at this point I still struggle to understand or explain my own personal experience except that it’s uncomfortable and awkward and sometimes feels a little too vulnerable for my liking at times, but I’ve been working on it because as I’ve learned it often equates somehow to listening and showing oneself as being trustworthy. Now, my tricks on circumventing the uncomfortableness that goes with this intimate experience would normally range from looking around where there are less intimidating parts like forehead, lips, nose and in between the eyes (which if I hadn’t shared here you might never know) but easily drawn to look at the mask, as an out of place detail that sticks out in my mind and one as it turns out not only means making eye contact as awkward as ever, but paying extra attention to wonder too far into mask territory, which often draws attention right to one’s eyes creating sort of a dotted line across that reads “You who, eye contact right here. You can’t miss it.” For the most part this new strategy as a way to interact has worked well and proven good practice to brush up on this uncomfortable skill we are all forced to work on, one that also goes to show that an even bigger part of our communication between each other over-all is facial cues.
So it seems that we just has to trust one another based on what we’ve known before of interacting with this person and their word, if we want to make anything out of what they are saying without questioning everything. To some that may be a big risk but in today’s day and age it’s all we’ve got to go on, so maybe be a little kinder to each other and think of kind words as well, words that may be reassuring to those of us who squirm when it comes to eye contact and are especially uncomfortable interacting during this time.