Recently, after speaking with someone to discuss a possible writing assignment, I re-capped the whole conversation in my mind about 100 times. Did I actually talk about my extreme fears of farm machinery and plastic straws? But more importantly, now that I realize the joke told wasn’t actually a joke, how long did I draw out that nervous laugh? These are common occurrences for me because I’m socially (and independently) awkward.
It’s no secret I think being awkward is a badge of honor. It takes a lot of skill to maneuver life the way we do. I mean, who could turn a completely normal situation into something weird and uncomfortable with one “that’s what she said” joke in a matter of seconds? The answer is, only those of us who bring the awkward. Here are some times we might’ve misjudged the situation, just by being our rockstar selves.
You thought they were going in for a hug, so you do, too.
On more than one occasion (okay MOST of my life), people of the professional nature tend to hold out a hand for a firm shake. I don’t know why, but this is the time my brain says “GO FOR HUG NOW!” Usually, it’s really weird but I hold tight anyway, and sometimes, I realize I’ve been holding a little too long. If this happens to you, just slowly back away and pretend as if it never happened.
It’s impossible to choose the right cart at the grocery store.
There must be a master list with two columns: Those who get functional carts and those who get the broken, wobbly, wheel-spinning pieces of metal. I’m on the latter list every. single. time. And those days when I have a crap ton of groceries to buy? Or when I take my kids and they want the huge cart with the humongous car molded on? So much fun to try and force the unwilling “speedster” around every bend, forcing everyone to jump out of my way or risk being run down.
You accidentally overshare, like, a lot
Because I work mostly from home, I’m typically super quiet. I mean, I talk to myself and sometimes my kids and cats, but other than that, my mouth is closed. So imagine the short circuiting in my brain when I’m face-to-face with another human. It’s something like that kid in Jerry McGuire. Maybe I told you a lifelong family secret, maybe I mentioned my email password, and maybe I kind of sort of blew the ending to your favorite show. #sorry
That joke you made didn’t get a laugh
You’ve had it squirreled away and waited for the right moment of just enough silence to throw it out there. But you want to make sure might tie in to what’s being discussed at least a little bit because the transition from “she will be missed” to “have you heard the one about” is too much. So you take a breath and tell the joke. And you’re smiling but when you look around, no one else is, unless you count the collective strained grins on everyone’s faces Now you have to explain why it’s funny and in the process, you start mumbling, losing eye contact, and ultimately, you might just peace out because no one knows what just happened anyway.
No one pushed you, but you fell on your face.
If there is a place to stand and walk, the Law of Awkward says I will fall. I have fallen in places with no cracks or level changes; I have fallen standing still. And it usually looks really bad, and there are almost always a lot of people around. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.
You waved at the wrong person.
Have you ever waved at your mom’s cousin or that one girl you used to work with but once you’ve done it, you realize it totally wasn’t them? Or even worse, it’s not even close. Most people would probably just continue on and not overthink the situation but for those like me, we keep waving like it’s a parade (and our civic duty to keep the wave going) or act like we’re swatting at a swarm of flies. This happens to me on the daily.
You can’t seem to master the selfie but man, you try.
My photo stream is filled with dozens of selfie attempts. Out of those dozens, I might post one. But once it’s public, I have to delete it because my smile is forced, my forehead has too much attention, or my finger is over the camera. It’s like I’ve never seen a camera before, let alone operated one. And don’t even get me started on being part of someone else’s selfie because, just, no.
Everything’s cool, as long as you don’t have to speak in front of a crowd.
Back in school, I used to silently beg not to be called for anything. To me, standing in front of the whole room, where everyone can see me fumble and stutter, is THE worst. Even now, if there’s a group meeting or party where I’m temporarily the center of attention to talk about anything at all, awkward fails are inevitable.
How long is too long for eye contact anyway?
I have a serious problem making eye contact. What is an acceptable length of time to hold the gaze? Thirty, forty seconds? What is considered “normal” and not “creepy?” I question this every day I have to leave the house and have even practiced with my cats but they break before me, because they’re cats, so I have no real frame of reference.
New words? You invent them on the reg.
When in full-on awkward-mode, my words become a jumbled mess. You want me to try and explain how I can effectively manage your social media page when I just used the word “aggresherd” to describe my strategy? Can I just email you instead? Thanks.
You fumble when someone hands you anything
It doesn’t matter what it is. If you hand me something that requires a delicate touch, while I’ll make sure I don’t drop it, the fear will probably be written all over my face. Just know this now.
You’ve stumbled onto silence and decide now is the best time to exit.
There comes a time when this group setting you’ve entered into had it’s time and now you’er ready to bolt. Conversations are dwindling and you’ve maxed out your awkward by 100 percent. You could politely tell everyone goodbye, give hugs or handshakes, maintain eye contact, and leave with a smile. But the awkward in you says no. Those things just aren’t you. So instead, you duck out with just a quick wave or dance your way out of the space and literally run to your car where you will peel out and make a bigger scene than you planned.
We’ve all experienced these encounters to some degree but I can’t even pretend to play it cool and what I’ve realized is, that’s okay. It’s all part of what makes me, me. So the next time you find yourself wondering “am I the only one who does this?” The answer is NO. Always, no.