The Orion

Learning about personal space and respecting boundaries

Prin Mayowa

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Making friends is always tough. It usually
takes a lot of going out on a limb to meet new people.


In college, some people swear by the idea of “T
he more, the merrier!” That, and the less money you’ll have to pitch in when the weekends come around.

Getting a great group of friends together in college is almost as hard as assembling the Autobots. Until a person can separate their own Autobots from a sea of Decepticons, going to Sutter Dining Hall alone can make one feel like they are on the Chico State “Black List”.

You begin to do whatever it takes, even if that means attending school events to meet people.

It always starts like this:

You meet the person, and find them to be interesting, if not witty, and a little strange. You are open to being friends. Why wouldn’t you be?

At first, you don’t mind the endless need for this person to make conversation with you. In fact, you are actually glad that you have a new texting buddy. Anything to make your classes go by faster.

Oddly enough, things start to change. As you begin to make more friends, this person clings to you.

Sending you text messages a minute before you wake up, talking to you about how they plan to get one of your inside jokes tattooed on their bicep, staying up until 3 a.m. doing who knows what, waiting to pick you up from a party so they can ask you about your night.

This person even shows up at your house — and you don’t remember giving them your address.

OK, awkward.

Needless to say, not all of us grew up with the understanding of what personal space means to different people. It’s something one can’t teach, but something one must learn and incorporate into their life.

Everyone has their limits when it comes to space. But with so many realms of “space,” that statement is insurmountably fluid.

Illustration by Darian Maroney

Illustration by Darian Maroney

People can cross boundaries verbally just by asking about someone’s sex life, or home life. Which makes sense. Some people still have a need for privacy, especially when meeting new people.

As humans we are curious and can stumble over, if not blur, the lines of personal boundaries as we get to know one another. That’s the great thing about becoming close to people.

Speaking of becoming closer to people, the best way to do this is by keeping their comfort level in mind.

If you’re a hugger, personal space may not be a problem for you. I have had my own personal share of moments where I have hung out with some acquaintances, and as the day came to an end, thought “this moment is not complete without a hug!”

And all too often, as I went in for the hug, I was met with “I don’t do hugs.”

This leads me to think a multitude of things.

Do I smell bad? Was it that inappropriate joke I made? How did I offend?

Then I learned to realize that there are people in this world who wholeheartedly would rather get punched in the stomach than receive a bear hug.

I’ve grown to not only acknowledge this, but unwittingly accept it.

Space is defined as a space in which one has the freedom and scope to live, think, and develop in a way that suits them.

Sometimes you find your space wanting to occupy someone else’s, or even wanting to fuse with some else’s.

But it takes two to tango.

And one to call the police.

Prin Mayowa can be reached at [email protected] or @PrinSupreme on Twitter.

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Learning about personal space and respecting boundaries