I have been a professional people watcher for 24 years now, and I’m 28 3/4 (I guess I will stop adding in the fraction when I turn 30). I grew up watching people. “People watching” per say is not a real profession but I guess I did it so much that I decided to graduate myself into it, magna cum-laude in fact, just because I could. (And by the way, it’s a real profession too, Behavior Analysts. Of which I’m not because that would mean that I would have to get a doctorate and write a thesis, both of which I am not ready to do.)
I observe a person’s every move, every heartfelt expression, every daydream, every silly act, every uncomfortable gesture and every manifestation of expression that can range from the genuineness of encountering a loved one at the airport, to that of encountering your “frenemy.” I just don’t know how to stop.
I love people in their natural habitat, especially when they think no one is watching (and I don’t mean, I’m sneaking behind your bedroom window watching you type of watching.) I mean the genuine sitting-at-the-mall-bench-after-window-shopping-for-too-long-people-watching. In daily unplanned activities is when people become most like their genuine self, and these are the gifts of people watching.
I guess if I had to, I would put people watching into different categories. Here are some of my personal favorites:
This one works best when you are a passenger. But if you must do it while driving (and please, paying attention while driving is definitely a priority), the drivers behind you are best seen through your rear view mirror. For most, driving is the best time to day dream or submerge themselves in the feelings of a song, I know this because I do this. And the genuine expressions of singing like you’re Kelly Clarkson or Beyonce is priceless. A guaranteed smile on your face.
Watching people with their friends is like watching “Friends” in real life except without the laughter in the background. It’s great to watch friends bring out the best in each other. I have found that some of the hardest laughs are seen among friends.
Now if you’re at an outdoor mall or movie theatre right before curfew you may run into The Teens. Watching The Teens with their friends is a little different, because they are trying to figure out where they fit in and nature calls for them to try too hard. So if you want to take a trip down memory lane take a look at The Teens trying to find themselves in a sea of peer pressure. It’s great to spot the alpha male and alpha females of the group. Trust me, you will eventually spot your teen self among The Teens and then think, “You’ll hate yourself for wearing those pants but good job at setting the trend alpha female.”
Watching People Flirt:
So I love this one. It is amazing how nature takes a hold of every single part of a person’s body when he/she is on the hunt for a mate. The body language is unlike any other. Women become voluminous, develop unforgettable eyes, have oh so touchable hair and the shiniest of smiles. Men turn into knights in shining armor, towering tall and are plain out McDreamy and McSteamy. The chemistry that happens between flirting couples has the effect of bringing a smile to your face, I guarantee it.
Watching People Doing Their Thing:
This is where people watching originated. People being fascinated to watch what others do. What do people think about when they go grocery shopping? What do people think about when they walk up and down the mall? What do people think about when they’re sitting at an airport waiting for their loved ones? What do people think about when ________(You fill in the blank)? Trying to figure this out is what gives people watchers job security.
Watching The People Watcher:
This one is simple but can catch you off guard. When you are people watching it’s only a matter of time before you spot another people watcher and your eyes meet. And when this happens, smile at them, acknowledging the moment and enjoy people watching together.
So now, go ahead and try it. People watching is truly best done with a friend (or in my case a sister) that you can enjoy the moment with.
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