If you’re awkward and you know it, laugh uncomfortably.
Hello. My name is Leighann, and I’m awkward.
If you’re looking for someone who excels at making uncomfortable eye contact with strangers in cars, not-so-smoothly inserting themselves into conversations and going in for the high-five, no…wait, it’s a hug…nope, never mind…they were just handing you their paperwork. Well, that’s me.
I mean, that’s not all of me, of course, but the truth is that I find myself in more awkward situations in life than I’d like to admit. And I’m guessing I’m not alone in this phenomenon.
Let’s name it for what it is.
Personally, I throw around the word ‘awkward’ like a hackey sac. It’s easier than getting to the root of my feelings. When I say, “I’m so awkward” what I’m really trying to tell you is either one of two things: a) I’m feeling really out of my element right now (i.e. discomfort or unfamiliarity) or b) I’m feeling scared that people will think of me differently if I’m just being myself. Perhaps these feelings don’t sound familiar, or maybe they sound all too familiar.
Is being awkward such a bad thing?
I used to think my awkwardness was the absolute worst thing. I mean, I love meeting new people, but I always felt like my fear of coming across as awkward held me back from being my true self. So instead, I just avoided situations that could even turn into potentially awkward encounters altogether. Problem solved, right?
Yeah. If you want to be a hermit and never meet anyone or experience anything new.
I’m a people person, and as much as I tend to go back into introverted tendencies, I need people in and around my life for maximum happiness. So you can see where this might be an issue at times.
People want to know you–the real you.
I’ve learned that the only way people will get a chance to know who I am, is if I step into that awkw–discomfort. Life is too short to be stuck pretending to be someone I’m not–and it’s also too long to go without people really knowing who you are and accepting you for it.
One conversation comes to mind when I think of this sentiment. It took place a few months ago, during a hike through the Redwoods with a dear friend of mine. We were talking about being fully known and she was recalling a quote by Timothy Keller that said,
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
If being uncomfortable for a brief lapse of time–or let’s be honest, sometimes even longer lapses of time–is what it takes to lay a foundation for truly authentic relationships to be built, maybe it’s worth it to be a little awkward. Perhaps instead of being so afraid of rejection and discomfort in situations that I shy away from them altogether, it might be a good idea to show up to places with my entire, deliciously complex self.
So show up. Be yourself. Let the awkward in.
Because, it seems that this is the best way to step into being fully known and loved by others.