We recently started talking about meeting your neighbors and it got me thinking about the variety of ways that people in different parts of the country (or the world for that matter) interact with each other in small ways, day-to-day. I've always realized that I act differently towards other people depending on the city I'm in, but that's not a bad thing. In fact, it's something of a cultural necessity.
I've told you all before about how I grew up on an Oregon farm and now I live in NYC (with some other big-city stops along the way).
Each place I've lived has had its own style, pace and acceptable social interactions. And the ultimate test of the tone of a city, I've found, is how you are supposed to interact with strangers. In the small-town of my childhood, you made eye contact and smiled (or at least acknowledged their existence as a person). In NYC, the goal is to not waste anyone's time. But while many tourists construe this as rudeness, it's really about being polite and letting the other person move on with their day.
Reader luluchin put it so perfectly with this comment:
As far as avoiding eye contact/smiling, I think it's a matter of volume here in NYC. You pass so many people constantly throughout the day you just couldn't acknowledge everyone. I have to remind myself when I leave the area to turn back on that part of me.
Yes! The vast differences between places are only highlighted when you transition from one to another and realize you've grown accustomed to a certain type of behavior. And the longer you spend somewhere, the harder it gets to "turn on" the other parts of yourself you've neglected.
So if you're feeling at odds with someone who hails from a different type of place, perhaps it's not a personality clash after all. Maybe they (or you) are still getting their personality adjusted accordingly. It's something to think about.
What about you? How easily can you transition from one type of life to another?