I hate to admit it, but I used to be deathly afraid of the notorious yawn. After all, when people yawn in front of me, does that mean that I’m boring? Do they disapprove of me? What’s the deal anyways?
I’m not sure how it got to that point. I think it was because I started to lose my confidence a little bit in college and tried to overcompensate by trying to be perfect and overly happy-go-lucky in a forced way, which actually had the opposite effect of making things more awkward, and thus leading to even more yawns from others in public.
Thinking back to those days though, I guess I was very privileged to see this as a “problem”. In the grand scheme of things, what really is the big deal if someone yawns or not? It could be something to do with you, or it could be something completely out of left field.
Maybe they are worried about putting food on the table for their family later in the day. Maybe they suddenly thought about an annoying co-worker earlier in the day that just wouldn’t stop interrupting them. Maybe they accidentally stared into the bright lights of the sun for too long. Who knows?
And yes, you see the things that are going around the world these days and the myriad of problems that exist everywhere. And it makes me think how I was so obsessed with a simple automated human response that literally everybody in the world can do and does do.
It even played a role in my social anxiety back in day. When I spoke in public or in front of a group of people, something in the back of my mind I would always worry about whether people would find me interesting enough. To a certain extent, I would worry whether they would approve or disapprove of what I’d say, or worse yet not even care about what I’d say!
And I guess I saw the action of yawning as a foolproof indicator that they were simply not into me or that they did not enjoy what I provided. But really, who knows?
I think this shows that many people in this world, especially those privileged enough to be living in developed first-world nations (most of us), worry about so many things that are completely inconsequential in the parts of the world that are struggling right now.
You look at the nations and territories that are at war right now. You look at the people that are homeless and living on the streets. Or the people that have a chronic or debilitating health issues. Do you really think that yawning is the greatest of their concerns right now?
Many people are busy trying to simply survive and have enough food to eat every single day. I’m sure they all have more important stuff to do.
Also, I used to think that yawning was only a negative reaction. Because as well documented, it can be contagious and lead to further yawns from other people and on and on it goes. And it makes people seem a little out of it or sleepy.
But yawns can also have a positive effect on the body. You can get greater oxygen into your lungs, which then helps your mind think more clearly and in effect allows you to make better decisions in the long run. It is also simply an easy way to clear your head and start from scratch.
In addition, people need to take good care of themselves before they can take care of others. And perhaps, yawning is one way for them to refocus their minds and their spirits, so that they have greater energy to do whatever needs to be done throughout the course of the day.
I guess I have a little bit better empathy and understanding for the people who need to yawn throughout the day, especially those that are not afraid to do it in public or even in high leverage situations. Also, I think the media kind of conditions us a little bit to see yawning as a “bad” thing.
After all, how often do you see Hollywood movie stars yawn on the big screen or in public interviews? Because the movies are generally well-scripted dramatic storylines, where every scene serves a purpose and flows seamlessly from one stage to the next. Alas, if only real life were like that!
Or how often do you see national news anchors yawn while talking about the latest political leanings or the latest important milestone in the community? How often do you see anyone yawn when they are in high leverage meetings or meeting with that certain someone that they need to impress?
So yes, yawning has had a negative reputation in public. But still, it is necessary and inevitable. It is a simple reaction, and it is something that everyone does for better or worse. And at the end of the day, don’t we all have more important things in our lives that need to worry about?