Confessions Of A Serial Hugger

It seems to me there are two types of people in this world: Huggers and Non-Huggers.

Some might refer to them as Introverts and Extroverts, but in the end it mostly boils down to the hugging.

You know those quiet, peripheral types? The ones who can read a room before they say one single regrettable thing? Those rare, mystical birds who never embarrass themselves in social settings?

Yah, I’m not one of those people.

I talk a lot, I think a lot, I feel a lot, and not surprisingly… I hug a lot. 

Like, all the time. 

Maybe too much.

Last weekend I flew across the country to attend my very first writers workshop. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I met hundreds of brand new people, I learned a ton of valuable information, and I extroverted all over the place. I was in my glory.

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I hugged hello, I hugged goodbye, and I hugged “nice to meet you”. It wasn’t until one particular moment on Thursday evening that I noticed someone standing to my right, a woman who I had never met but “knew” from the Internet (as one does). I turned and officially introduced myself to her AS I was already going in for a hug, when I felt more than saw her frozen smile as she valiantly attempted to not recoil from my embrace.

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She was shorter than me so my armpits tragically grazed her shoulders as I scooped her in to myself. She stiffened just enough to signal her discomfort and it wasn’t until that exact moment that I remembered I’d heard somewhere that she didn’t really like to be touched. Not like it was a phobia or anything, she just wasn’t the handsy type.

Real cool, Amber’s Memory! Thanks for showing up late, but “This information would’ve been useful to me YESTERDAY!” (Name that movie).

In these types of moments one really only has two choices: acknowledge the weird air and let it get in your head, or just barrel ahead like the ‘bull in a china shop’ that you are.

I’ll give you one guess which route I chose.

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I immediately released her, pretended not to be uncomfortable, and asked her a series of questions that didn’t necessarily relate to each other but sufficiently distracted us both until we could retreat to our separate corners.

Guys, sometimes extroverting is hard! What’s normal? What’s not? Don’t ask me! I obviously don’t know!

I hug friends, I hug acquaintances, and I even hug perfect strangers.

No one is safe.

Not even the workers at Trader Joe’s.

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One would think that I’d be a little more gun-shy with my hugging after what can only be referred to as the “incident” that took place just two months ago in September. It was the first week of the kids being back in school, so for the first time in three months I found myself cheerily running errands alone.

Costco, Trader Joes, Target- I was amazed at how much I could fit in one trip without anyone asking me to take them to every public restroom within a 5 mile radius or stopping me every seventeen seconds to see if we were going to buy that package of twisty straws or not.

Maybe it was the high of freedom that made me a little extra gregarious that day, or maybe it would’ve happened anyway; I guess we’ll never know. But one thing is for sure: I’ve never been so mortified over a hug.

Trader Joe’s was my last stop of the day and as the woman behind the register began to scan my groceries, we struck up a friendly conversation. I cannot tell you what we talked about but I do know that it was reciprocal. She asked questions, she smiled, and at one point we both laughed simultaneously over all the different types of humus in my cart.

(Exactly how much humus is too much humus to eat in one sitting, anyway? I’m asking for a friend.)

Nevermind. It doesn’t matter.

THE POINT IS WE BONDED, OKAY?

As we wrapped up our chat she handed me my receipt, looked me square in the eyes, and said in no uncertain terms, “Well let me at least give you a hug before you leave!”

To which I waited all of 1.5 seconds before responding, “Okay!”, and walking around the baggage area with my arms outstretched to signal to her that I was all in for this hug. Could it be? Had I finally found my one socially awkward match in the universe?

It wasn’t until I reached her side of the register that I stopped short because she turned her back on me to hug another Trader Joe’s employee. It was his last day of work there. Her words flooded my brain one more time. “Well let me at least give you a hug before you leave!” Bless it all. She had been talking to him while looking at me.

There was no backpedaling here. There was nothing in the world I could say to make the fact that I was standing a little too close on the wrong side of the register with my arms in the air giving the universal signal for “let’s hug”, any less awkward.

 

Or if there was, it was beyond me.

So I did what any normal person would do. I halfheartedly pretended to be stretching my arms, did the fastest 180 of my life, and speed-walked out of there, laughing audibly all the way because REALLY? Is this my actual life?

And that is the story of how I very nearly wound up in a three-way embrace with two perfect strangers.

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I used to try to change, to be different, or to attain some level of chill, but in the end I’ve decided to just embrace who I am (hug pun intended). (Btw, why is it that when people say, “no pun intended” there most certainly is a pun intended?)

What can I say.

Don’t fight the funk, right?

Just hug it out, boo.

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16 thoughts on “Confessions Of A Serial Hugger

  1. Tammy

    This is so funny. I am not what one would quantify as a “hugger”, but I do hug. I just don’t like it when the hug is overly aggressive. However, the incident at TJ’s sounds like something that would happen to me! I am outgoing and totally would have thought the cashier was into me. Oh well, I like that you can laugh at yourself. BTW, The Wedding Singer is one of my favorite movies. I just watched recently for the 89th time.

  2. karen

    Definitely not a hugger. Except for my kids who mostly don’t let me anymore but I can blame it on them now. I TOTALLY had that moment, except completely the opposite. I was having a sweet heart to heart with my chiropractor at which point she had me stand up and face her. I was fully prepared for her next innovative adjustment position but then got a bit confused when she stepped closer. Looking for direction as to which way to bend or what to do with my arms, I asked “What are we doing now?” To which she replied, “I’m giving you a hug.” Not awkward at all.

  3. Amber

    I love non huggers!!!! I seek them out to hug them! Watch out! I’m like Amber! I tell myself I’m the exception to their non hugging patterns, I’m convincing them it’s the right way!

  4. Kathy

    Amber–WHEN we meet, I will definitely give you a hug! Such a funny post, and I TOTALLY identify with that awkward feeling when you hug someone and their body stiffens. Thanks for some laughter!
    Were you at Tribe Conference? I was there, and now also in the HopeWriters group.

  5. Erin Ulerich

    I love this story – awkwardness and all – AND I use that Wedding Singer line at least once a week, although no one recognizes it. I even say it exactly like Adam Sandler does in the move, so I can’t imagine what the problem is. Ha! Thanks for being so real-life with us!

  6. Jenn Tanaka

    Wedding Singer! Ah, love that movie. Also had my share of “quick stretching”. While I’m not one to give out hugs super easily, I absolutely love receiving hugs. Yeah, I’m a weird wannabe extrovert introvert whose love language includes touch. Go fig.

  7. Joni

    The Trader Joe’s story is awesomely wonderful and made me laugh out loud. My dog wanted to know what was so funny, so I told her and she just snorted!

  8. Roy

    It may be different for ladies, but as a male hugger you must be conscious of body language and start with side hugs, it’s respectful to start that way.
    I lshare this from a book I read called ‘the cure’. Cut really short and paraphrased–“he held me tight until he was sure that all the love he had for me had been received , before he released me. ” I love that and pray that when I share a hug, it is christs love radiating between us that is felt. Confessionofaserialhugger great blog.

  9. Anna H.

    Oh my gosh, this is awesome! I wish you’d found me and hugged me last weekend because I was just shy girl extroverting in some corner all weekend. Shy extrovertism is my polkadot/striped personality and I rock it like a weirdo!! Loved THIS! And loved the Wedding Singer quote which I use constantly to people who miss the reference.

  10. Amy

    I was at the H*W workshop and I adore this story. So funny. And, by the way, as an introvert at the workshop, who was forced to interact with strangers in close quarters for far too long, I also exhibited some amazing awkwardness. My best way to describe it is that, in the middle of talking way too much, my brain was saying, “STOP TALKING,” but my mouth was unable to stop.

    It was precious. I wrote about it this week on my site (as writers, do, right?).

    I regret not introducing myself at the workshop, but I was at the end of my ability to extrovert 🙂

  11. Mary Carver

    Haha! So funny. When I read the title of your post, I immediately thought, “Wait, what? She didn’t hug ME when we talked at the workshop!” But then I remembered you totally DID hug me, when I was trying to escape to the bathroom because EMOTIONAL BREAKDOWN, thank you very much, workshop speakers. I should’ve paid you back a less-awkward hug when we talked the next day. 🙂 Next time. 🙂

    1. ambersalhus@msn.com

      Haha! Yah, I sort of intercepted your trip to the bathroom with a hug! I so enjoyed talking with you at the workshop Mary! Hopefully we get a chance again next year.

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