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Things I'm Grateful For: My Awkward Stage

I really should have seen it coming. The harbingers of my plummet into pre-teen awkwardness were all flagrantly evident. I was 5’2″ with size ten feet. Did I really think that I could survive looking like I was wearing swim fins my whole life? Or even more preposterously, did I think I would be one of those genetic freaks who transition seamlessly from child to adult?
Despite my reluctance to acknowledge all the warning signs, puberty hit me. Hard. I grew six inches, seemingly overnight, without gaining a pound. I insisted on dying my hair black and cutting my own bangs… about 4 inches too short. This only highlighted my “too-large-for-my-face” nose, braces and cystic acne. If you need more of a visual, I essentially lived under a bridge and demanded everyone to “Answer me, these questions three.”

My “Awkward Stage”, as my family likes to call it, was hard on me. I just happened to be best friends with the most popular group of mutant seventh grade supermodels the world had ever seen. I never got as many comments on MySpace pictures as them or had any jealous girls make up rumors about me fooling around in some closet. The least they could have done was make up some eating disorder story about my Stretch Armstrong body. I mean, that’s how you know you’ve really made it, right? Boys didn’t laugh at my dumb jokes. In fact, boys rarely even talked to me unless they were soliciting advice on how to date my friends. While my girlfriends were flooded with IMs from everyone on their Buddy List, I sat in my room reading.

During this time, I was extremely self conscious. I felt like I had to compensate for my lack of aesthetic beauty with kindness. I mean, let’s get real, what pre-teen girl was gonna put up with run of the mill cyber bullying from a girl who looked like an anorexic Artie Lange? In my desperate attempt for a mere quarter of the male attention my friends were getting, I tried really hard to be the best version of myself I could be.

As months passed, then eventually years, I slowly emerged out of the aforementioned “Awkward Stage”. I was by no means a supermodel but at least no one was chasing me around with pitchforks anymore. Initially I was embarrassed of my former appearance. I became the queen of untagging old Facebook pictures and hiding photo albums in my house. I didn’t yet realize how much of a blessing those years were.

Through my high school years, and now college, I have encountered too many girls who place all their self-worth in their appearance. You know the type, girls who need a boyfriend at all times, girls who have no substance or the very worst, girls who think it’s okay to be mean to others who don’t look or dress the way they do. Because of my “Awkward Stage”, I’m able to be friends with guys without needing any sort of validation from them. I can walk around without makeup on. I can eat a giant disgusting burrito in front of any man, woman or child for God’s sake! Simply put, I am completely comfortable just being me.

One day when I have kids I hope they have the most atrocious, revolting Awkward Stages ever. Bring on the unibrows, glasses and man boobs! I truly believe they’ll look back and be grateful for the impact it had on their life. And just for the record, when I see old pictures of me now, I couldn’t be happier. Sometimes I even think I look pretty cute in a Java the Hut kind of way.

by Christine Salamone

Follow Christine on Twitter @CeneSalamone

  • Kimberly Hawkins

    I totally cut my own hair/bangs when I was 13! It went from waist length to shoulder and mid neck length (of course I cut it crooked!). Oh and the bangs! Way too short and crooked. I’m comfortable being me, but not enough to eat a huge, messy burrito in front of anyone! Haha!

  • Samantha Ritchie

    I never thought about how important that awkward stage was in that regard…but that totally makes sense. i just look back at my 12-13 year old self and think that i was just trying out different looks (emo/punk/hippie?) and being weird. but i guess in the end all of that strangeness has allowed me to be the confident person i am now.
    great post!

  • Carly Heiser

    I’m totally 100% agreed! Awkward stages teach humility better than any parent ever could.

  • Brooke Maher

    ah couldn’t agree more. died laughing reading this even though i’ve heard this theory from you multiple times. IT’S STILL FUNNY! love you

  • Rebecca Cruces

    it feels like just one i stretched a foot, got glasses and braces, and my hair became completely unmanageable. unfortunately my awkward stage lasted all of junior high and most of high school. haha but you’re so right! my awkward stage does allow me to not care what people think and be more confident.

  • Dale Maher

    I love you just the way your are! (and were!)
    You are a very gifted and talented writer. Your story made me laugh and cry and laugh again!! I am sure, in the near future, I will be reading your articles in Elle or Marie Claire or maybe the New York Times!!!!

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Headgear throughout middle school = awkward, especially at lunch time.

  • Amy Wallace

    This is a great article. I’m almost 30, and I’m hoping my awkward stage ends soon. Fingers crossed!

  • Christine Salamone

    Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this and for all your kind words!! You sincerely made my day/week/month/year. Whoever says people on the internet are mean are dirty liars!

  • Kellie Pittman

    preach, gurl.

  • Andrea Jo Mistretta

    Awesome piece Christine! You definitely made me laugh because I think I had that same horrid awkward stage! I’m afraid to look back on those pics! hehe!

  • Nyssa Sager

    Love it! Good for you :) you’re totally right. (and by the way, you really don’t look that awkward in the first photograph. You look like everybody should’ve looked when they were that age, so good on you that you’re not ashamed anymore). I’m slowly getting to the acceptance-phase ;p

  • Maddy Havey

    cene you are seriously such a talented writer! this is sooo good! was this for a class or did you feel spontaneous? job well done kiddo

  • Rebecca Doris

    i LOVVVEEEE my awkward stage! my facebook profile pic right now is myself in the midst of braces, acne, and blue hair :)

  • Alyssa Marie Rodriguez

    Awesome! It makes sense to me now!
    I feel like I now understand a little bit more about myself!

  • María José Skar

    Hey! I totally apreciate my awkward phase too, I spent so much time reading and becoming a music geek, that I can kick some asses around now. It made me a loose, confident person.

  • Anonymous

    Is that really all there is to it because that’d be flabbretgasing.

  • Jordan Berg

    I just got braces. I’m 21 which is not a great time for braces so I was just re-reading this post to feel better about myself. It worked!

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