Embrace Your Awkwardness

It’s what brings us together.

Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

I’ve been human-ing for 25 years now and have yet to master the subtle art of saying hello and goodbye. You’d think it would be ingrained by now, but no. Every time a greeting situation is on the horizon, my mind goes through an anxious rigmarole of “when can I break into the conversation to say I’m leaving?” “At what distance should I make eye contact?” “How do I begin?” “What amount of physical contact is appropriate?”

The French have come up with a relatively practical solution to all of this — kissing everyone on both cheeks. It does at least bring a formality to greetings, and avoids the whole “how-long-should-a-hug-be” dilemma, but it does mean that you are forced to kiss people you don’t necessarily want to kiss, and that it takes half an hour to leave a party, or to reach your desk on reaching office. Also in winter colds spread like wildfire, which helps to get a sexy french smoker’s voice, but is otherwise a definite negative.

Why is it that greeting people — seemingly the simplest of interactions — should be so hard?

Why am I so awkward? as part of my brain asks the other, at least twice a day. Those times when I say weird things that I immediately regret, and internally shake my head in disgust. For a long time, I had the feeling that I must have skipped class the day they taught everyone to be normal.

Turns out, everyone is awkward. It makes no sense, but that is life, and awkwardness is funny as hell if you think about it. It’s like watching a baby elephant try to eat, hitting itself in the face because it can’t control its trunk properly.

It is adorable, endearing and something that should bring us all closer together — a shared experience common to us all.

The problem is, we struggle to be vulnerable. We don’t want to laugh at our awkwardness because we want to push it down and pretend it isn’t there, pretend that we are perfectly at ease in all situations.

But no one wants others to be flawless. It would be annoying, and very boring. Little moments of awkwardness, from seeing someone in the street and worrying about when to start waving, to an unfortunately timed queef, are vital for society.

Plus, when you think about it, they are just damn funny.

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