Collage by Kellie
I was sitting with my friend in the dining hall a few weeks ago, when she announced that she wished she was more of a “hugger.” I remarked that I never thought she wasn’t a “hugger”, but as I looked back on all the occasions in which I would label myself the “hugger”, I realized that she would tense up when she saw me going in for one. For her, she wasn’t really actively participating in a hug; she was passively “being hugged.”
I never thought that giving or receiving a hug could be a bad thing. Drifting through pages of I Waste So Much Time, about 25% of the memes and gifs are of adorable things hugging other adorable things. Friends are constantly posting on Facebook or Twitter how much they “could use a hug”, or how they wish they “could have a hug right now”. I know that hugging can be an awkward thing, especially if it’s a greeting with an acquaintance or a relative. I’ve had my fair share of hugs in which cheek kisses end up on your ear, one armed hugs when you can actually feel the apathy of the other person radiating into your body, and, my personal favorite, the hug in which one person is seated and the other is standing, so if the stander is a female, the sitter gets a face full of boobs. Yet, I never realized that hugs between friends could be awkward or tense. I never realized that “the hugger” existed. “The Hugger” kind of sounded like a monster or a serial killer. But I was one. I was a “hugger”.
The strange thing to me was that my friend who didn’t like to be hugged wished that she was more of a “hugger”. Not only did she want to become something that actively did what she disliked doing, but she wanted to become something that I didn’t even think about being. I enjoyed hugging. My family is very close, so I grew up constantly being embraced, cuddled, and squeezed a few times a day. I never put much thought into hugging others. I always thought that it just happened when it happened. I hugged on happy occasions and sad ones; I hugged as congratulations and as an apology. I never felt like my hugs were intrusive, I felt like a pretty good judge of when someone needed a hug. It was almost like I had a kind of sensor that just went off when a hug was to be given. I wondered if my friend lacked this sensor. What did she do in moments that called for a hug? Was she one of those people who pats you on the shoulder, or worse, on the hand? Would she sit awkwardly next to you and comfort you with words? Did she avoid hugs at all costs? I knew, from experience, that she accepted hugs, but with a tense posture, and for, on average, three seconds.
I thought about whether it was a genetic thing or a psychological thing, this uncomfortableness of being hugged. Perhaps she was so in tune with herself and her body that she never felt the desire to hug or be hugged. Did I have a need to be hugged? I didn’t think so. I didn’t think it was strange that I was a “hugger”; I actually found it stranger that she had the desire to be a “hugger”. She obviously wanted to join my side, with my legion of huggers, but I wanted to know why she wanted to make the switch, if hugging clearly made her uncomfortable. I thought that it was possible that rather having to accept the hugs, she wanted to be the one giving them.
I considered all the times that I’d initiated hugs and all the times that I’d received them. I realized that when on the receiving end; although it feels good that someone wants to hug you, it doesn’t really feel as good as giving a hug. Giving one puts you in the active, more powerful position, and it feels nice to provide someone with something that is special, almost like a gift. That doesn’t mean that being the “hugge” isn’t a good thing too. Getting a gift is nice, especially if it’s from someone you care about. Sometimes you may feel insecure, like you don’t really need the gift, and maybe you feel bad about receiving it without giving one back. Regardless of whether you’re giving or receiving, hugs are powerful gifts. I realized that my friend needed to know this.
I decided to put my insecurities of being a “hugger” aside and help my friend learn to give and accept hugs. I feel it’s my duty as a “hugger” to help those that want to learn and grow and feel more comfortable accepting and giving hugs. I know for a lot of people hugging is more about personal space, and I also believe that it’s my duty as a “hugger” to respect those people and their personal space. But for all the huggers and those who want to make the switch to the “hugger” side, go hug someone you love (and who wants to/likes to/deserves a hug) and bask in the warmness and closeness, let the endorphins flow, and know that this hug is a gift and a sign of love.
-Margeaux Perkins, Staff Writer ; mmargeauxx.tumblr.com