I spent a good chunk of the first twenty-one years of my life teaching myself how to be less socially inept. It has been a difficult climb, but I can confidently say that I am at least 45% less socially awkward than I was in elementary, middle, and high school. This, however, doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally slip. Take this entry I wrote in my journal a couple of months ago:
I was walking across campus towards my car. It couldn’t have been more than five minutes away when all of a sudden I became hyper-aware of the other humans that had apparently been walking around me the entire time. It was then that I felt my face starting to melt and my pores expand beyond the size of my eyeballs.
“Could no one else see it?”
“They must have right?”
“Everyone is staring at me.”
My brain choked on the weight of these thoughts. I could physically feel gaping holes in my face and oils leaking out of them. To make matters worse, my memory of how limbs are meant to naturally move escaped me. I had no clue what my arms were supposed to be doing while I walked. The amount of pressure placed on both of my legs was unequal. I could feel the blood streaming throughout my veins, an unnerving realization that made me want to pass out. I tried to remember if breathing was something I was meant to tell myself to do, or if it was an automatic function. Then… I got to my car.
This almost grotesque experience may be relatable to some people. Feeling awkward is no foreign sentiment. Whether it’s telling your waiter “you too” in response to their, “enjoy your meal,” or asking a woman when she’s due only to find out she’s not pregnant. Everyone finds themselves in uncomfortable positions. However, like most things in life, awkwardness is a spectrum. Encountering an awkward situation and being an awkward person lends itself to different circumstances. I’m 100% an awkward person. At times it can be fun and maybe a little endearing, other times it makes me legitimately question my entire existence. I avoid placing myself in positions that will trigger my nervous tendencies but this doesn’t always matter. The sensation that everyone is looking at me can pop up at random times. People who undergo this type of thinking respond in different ways. My default reaction to overwhelmingly awkward situations is to shut down. I become temporarily mute while others may sweat, ramble, or not make eye contact. It’s relatable, but also numbingly isolating.
All this being said, I don’t think being awkward is a bad thing. It has definitely brought a couple of setbacks, however, it’s also given me an excuse to step out of my comfort zone. I’m constantly improving myself because most new social interactions present a sort of challenge. All of my favorite people are awkward beings. Maybe I’m projecting, but I’ve noticed a sense of belonging that comes about being around a group of weirdos. So, if you feel you fall into this category, embrace it! Not only may you be helping someone else feel more adjusted but it’s a part of who you are :)