This I Believe

Erin - Moraga, California
Entered on December 5, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: respect

I believe in the sanctity of personal space.

When I leave my house, I constantly find myself thrust amongst strangers who have no respect for boundaries. Shoving their way through me, many try to manipulate the concept of a line. Personal space is, “the region surrounding each person, or that area which a person considers their domain.” My mom affectionately refers to this area as her “bubble.” She is perturbed when people stand too close and “pop” it. This amount of territory varies.

In crowded areas, people become accustomed to maneuvering in tight quarters, and are commonly rushed. Drivers, for instance, recklessly force their cars through traffic, tailgating and weaving, hoping to make it home quickly during rush hour. I have noticed a similar scenario with the lunch line at school. If you don’t plow, you will never get your food. It seems many have forgotten the concept of personal space in their quest for individual goals.

Nonetheless, through my own experiences, I have found pushiness to be rude. It is unappreciated to have some strange lady breathing down your neck as you wait in line to buy items from the grocery store. It is uncomfortable to have some man’s armpit resting on your head on BART, or to be rammed by someone’s bag as they rush out of the airport.

Personal preference plays a large role in the amount of space one covets. Some people don’t mind having others invade their territory, however it is one of my mother’s pet peeves. I used to brush against her when we were walking, and she couldn’t stand it. She made me walk in a straight line, careful to avoid veering into her. I quickly learned, and developed her particular space standards. Now I find it somewhat stressful to have people intrude in my “domain.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to completely isolate myself from others, but certain situations irk me.

I believe honoring someone’s personal space demonstrates respect and patience. Hassling the old man counting coupons in front of you probably won’t motivate him to move faster, and hovering over his shoulder definitely won’t. Waiting your turn in line reveals your understanding of this unspoken rule. It is polite, and assumed, to take your place at the back of the line. Frequently, people consider themselves above the system, and attempt to “cut” in front. This only gets them yelled at, and pushed to the rear.

There have been times when I have almost been a “bubble-violator.” My frustration, caused by the car driving 15 in a 30 mph zone, was nearly enough to push me over the edge. I felt like driving close enough to nudge them along, but I checked my frustration. I realized, that if I abandoned the system, the boundaries of personal space, I would become one of the many annoyingly impatient people. Therefore, I believe the world would be a better place if we all just respected that imagery space we have claimed for ourselves.