What is a hug?

There is a scene from Dreamworks’ The Croods, where Nicolas Cage’s character, Grug, and Emma Stone’s character, Eep, a dysfunctional father-daughter duo, tearfully clasp one another to themselves as the movie’s climax unfolds. They’re not holding each other like an adult would a baby. They’re not carrying the other as one would a tool or vessel. What purpose could gripping another body in such an obviously upset manner serve?

Eep and Grug stand there in that moment, the movie’s music score swelling, on a cliff that’s crumbling around them as the world they know falls to bits. Earth’s crust is cracking, breaking. They’ve got to move! Already, their family is on the other side of the ravine, eagerly awaiting them with worry and terror plainly etched on their faces. It’s a real nail biter!

Secured in her pa’s arms, Eep cuddles up close. “This works good,” she says through her sniffles. “What do you call it?”

In famous dadderly fashion, Grug confesses, “I was thinking about calling it a hug” before throwing in a Dad JokeTM. “Because it rhymes with Grug,” he says as he shrugs sheepishly. “But you can change it if you want.” Eep manages a chuckle and throws her arms around her big, strong Daddo, telling him she loves the idea.

The Croods, a heartwarming film about family and preservation. I recommend it for anyone who’s into a slice of life, family road trip kind of movie.

Man, someone get me some tissues because that scene gets me in the emotions EVERY. TIME! There is a handful of reasons I could think of as to why something that particular wrenches, from the depths of my tender soul, such a deluge of tears and snot.

The Definition of a Hug

Can you imagine a time when hugging, a gesture we are so accustomed to, didn’t have a name… or even happen outside of coupling? A hug in itself, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “a tight clasp with the arms; embrace.” How very straightforward and succinct. They suspect its first appearance in the English language was around the 1560s from the Old Norse word hugga, meaning to soothe, console.

Mmkay, so that’s starting to match what we know a hug to be. That’s certainly a lot more informative in regards to the movie I mentioned just a moment ago.

But what is a Hug?

We are beings with a consciousness. We are a veritable mass of muscles mooshed around a boney frame with this knobby, wrinkly blob encased within our skulls. It contains these vague, misty images we know to be memories. It releases hormones that allow us to move, breathe, digest, and rid ourselves of waste. It collects information from our five senses and somehow molds it all into reactions and moods.

These bits and pieces are what gives us an image… an interpretation of what a hug is. Crazy!

I set out and asked my friends and family via Facebook what they thought a hug is. Only a few responded, but I was intrigued anyway.

A Hug Is

Reassurance, comfort, love.

C. D., a friend, 30s

It’s anything and everything you need right now. It’s warm. It’s peaceful. It’s home.

K.M., a friend and coworker, 30s

A hug is the love inside you coming out through your arms to the one you’re hugging. It’s the friendliest way to say you care without being sexist, racist, religiously critical or too overwhelming. It gives back to you a feeling of well-being.

P.B., a family member, 80s

Closeness among friends.

G. T., a friend, 60s

…like a tip: it’s a sign of gratitude in a (usually) platonic way in the form of something vague and useful.

C. G., a friend and waiter, 20s

Holding someone you care for close to you with the purpose of feeling better or making them feel better.

S. C., a family member, 60s

A sign of affection. Happiness. Sadness.

M.C., a family member, 60s

[…is place where] there are no secrets.

D.C., a friend, 30s
From Google’s Reuse section

In amazing human fashion, there are as many different takes on what a hug is as there are people on this planet. If one were to take the time to make a word cloud of all the keywords from a free response survey, I’m sure real qualitative data could be gathered! Perhaps some of the top docs in the field have already done so.

Throughout the day, as comments continued to trickle in, one friend showed me an interesting perspective. She said something akin to “You must relax and remember to breathe in a hug. They’re not to be taken advantage of.” While I know her to have experienced many unfortunate and inconvenient upheavals in her life, I suspect this view was coming from experience.

What a Hug is Not

Other definitions of a hug are to cling together and to keep close to. Analyzed with a jaundiced and bitter eye, a hug can bring forth ugliness. It can make us remember times where we were oh-so vulnerable and an individual we thought we trusted took that openness in hand with a mean intent.

Touching a touchy subject, pedophilia and pedophiles have been in the news recently thanks to Jeff Epstein (seriously, what was up with that guy?) and the huge push for pedophilia to be recognized as a sexual orientation. Even now, in France, there is a public outcry to revolutionize old and out-dated views on what the best age for consent is because one victim decided to write a book about her encounter with a celebrated pedophile.

Not only that, but both men and women with a record of manipulation, aggression, and emotional abuse of their peers (among other things) use hugs to gain our trust and rip our finances, family, and peace of mind from right under our noses. What is their end game? Is it an internal drive they can’t rid themselves of? Perhaps they’re receiving some kind of divine vision from Up High. Do they feel this urge sometimes or has it been there since birth? I can continue to wonder in suppositions.

However, I’m certain we can agree on what a hug is not. It is not permission to do as we please with another human, their surroundings, or loved ones. It is not a green light to strip someone of their self-worth; for who are we to play an Ultimate Being?

A True Gesture

In my humble opinion, a hug is a place in which all is communicated and all is felt on the deepest of levels. It is a delicate dance that brings balance to us — a weakened state garnering strength from a sturdy source, a wail in the dark being soothed back to sleep, a celebration after much toil.

A hug is the hallmark of a strong community, a gesture shared among strangers and loved ones alike. It’s used to bring others into the fold, warm and secure.

Simply put, a hug is an aspect of true human experience.

***

For my next post, I’d like to discuss “silence.” But first, a poll!

Myers-Briggs and I

Let’s talk Myers-Briggs. Just about everyone and their mom should know what this is or has had heard of it at some point. It’s basically a psychological test that puts an individual into a personality type based on the level of disagreement or agreement they have towards choice statements (i.e. After a hard work week, you prefer to be around a boisterous crowd rather than sit at home -> Greatly Agree, Agree a little, etc.).

There are 16 types of personalities, by the way, which are grouped into opposites:

  • Extroverted vs. Introverted
  • Sensing vs. Intuition
  • Thinking vs. Feeling
  • Judging vs. Perceiving

1200px-Unclesamwantyou

From the get-go, we can all basically say that we’re either extroverted or introverted. For some, it’s definitely a deciding factor in regards to hobbies or jobs. I was one of those people. Myers-Briggs was the test I took when I was having trouble figuring out what I wanted to do after college. You might laugh and say that’s funny, but it was doubly more useless than the bullshit ASVAB test the military gets you to take under the guise of Want to Know What Job is Best for You?! Take Our Test!

When I was at the precipice of deciding whether or not I should go into chiropractic work (Plan A: what I thought I should do) or go to Japan (Plan B: what I wanted to do), I took a Myers-Briggs test. My result? INFP: Introverted Intuition Feeling Perceiving or “The Mediator” or “The Healer.”

At least… I thought it sounded like me? I was very concerned with wanting to be of use to someone, caring for others, and providing support. Basically, I wanted to nurture someone without having to have children I wasn’t ready for. At the same time, I wanted the freedom to be creative and pursue my art. Doing a quick Google search on “INFP careers” gave me a list of things I was already interested in or already doing!

Here are some examples:

  • Fine art
  • Animation
  • Photography
  • Writing
  • Nutrition
  • Chiropractics
  • Nursing
  • Languages
  • Plants and flowers
  • Investigation and research

One career that stuck out was “teacher.” Because of what I was going to be doing in Japan (being an ALT, Assistant Language Teacher), I thought, “This must be a sign. I love it when I can share my knowledge with others and enlighten them. Maybe this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Fast-forward to 2020 and here I am, taking the test again.

I was inspired to do so by a young person I follow on Instagram. They had posted about feeling insecure about their artwork and not feeling like they were good enough, what with being surrounded by better and more advanced artists.

I felt that.

I felt that so hard that I had this drive to tell them they weren’t alone. I too have the same huge weight on my mind. It’s so humongous in fact that I have more or less stopped drawing.

Anyway, so what did I get this time? ISFP-T: Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving – Turbulent, “The Composer” or “The Adventurer.” But… what does “turbulent” mean? This is the first time I’ve seen it.

Turbulent Adventurers are just as likely to explore, just a little closer to the familiar and deeper within their comfort zones.

[They] may be less sure about their contributions… question the worthiness of their ideas and results. [They may even feel uncertain about them]. Their doubts may make any breakthrough successes hard to accept.

[They] are less likely to feel competent in the face of stress. At first glance, this might appear negative. But whenever these personalities encounter something that feels stressful, their lack of confidence is likely to cause them to be more concerned about it – perhaps even to feel dread because of it. These feelings may bring about a heightened awareness of actual or potential problems.

…societal pressures still seem to influence many Adventurer personalities. Standard scorecards that pinpoint who is doing well in a community carry more weight among Turbulent Adventurers…

Turbulent Adventurers are likely a little less independent, but more likely to be open to working on a team or collaborating. They need to know that others approve of them and that the people who matter to them are all right with what they do.

Oh, OK. So, basically, I’m sensitive and constantly worried about what others think. Mmyeah, that sounds about right. More often that not, I let those negative emotions suppress my talents. But what about the rest of it? I’ll bullet-point it here along with a comparison between an INFP and an ISFP.

IMG_20200411_0001

At this point, you’re probably going, “But they’re the same thing.” Heck, even the career suggestions are similar or outright exact. I want to personally thank the people over at reddit for digging deep into the topic of Myers-Briggs and MBTI typing. Having read their collected information on INFP vs. ISFPs, I can certainly say that I feel more at ease with my typing as an ISFP rather than an obsessive INFP. Granted, I can still get obsessed about things, but it seems that it’s in a different manner compared to my sibling, the INFP.

Do you know your acronym? Has it helped in determining your path in life? Let me know!