Hello, I’m Rebecca, and I’m your biggest cheerleader. I’m also the chair of the Awkward Moments committee. We hold meetings daily, and there are a lot of open seats so feel free to come in and sit down wherever. Don’t worry that it’s like your college class where there aren’t technically assigned seats, but you all have your favorites.
I don’t know why we worry about awkward moments as much as we do. They’re not defining… or maybe they are. Sometimes moments that feel tenuous and uncomfortable are the moments where we grow the most. We make a new choice, we raise our hands when we’re not sure of the answer, or we walk into the wrong classroom. We get uncomfortable with saying something unexpected, making a mistake, or failing in front of other people. I don’t know why though… these are the things that make us people. Every single human being who has come into existence has had an awkward or uncomfortable moment. And you know what? They’re better for it.
So let’s talk awkward moments. I can guarantee you’re all thinking of something. Maybe that time you got locked out of a dressing room wearing an outfit you were trying on. You had to either wait for an attendant to show up or wander out and find one while barefoot and shuffling around in jeans two sizes too big. Or maybe that time you were talking about something that frustrated you with one of your friends and your phone accidentally called them. So, um… were you eating spinach with your lunch? Because there’s something green in your teeth.
You know that time you waved at someone you knew walking down the road? They weren’t the person you thought they were, so they furrowed their brows or ignored your wave entirely. Or that time you got up too quickly and the seam of your jeans ripped. Right. Down. The. Middle. Remember when you sent a quick text to your boyfriend, and it accidentally went to his mom instead? There was that also that one time you went into your flat class with your martingale on.
Just like I’ve done every single one of these probably more than once, I’m sure you can think of the moments that have made you uncomfortable, embarrassed, or feeling awkward. The best thing about it? We all have. There’s no reason to judge the girl who waved at you, thinking you were someone else. Why not just smile and wave back? Sure, it seems strange but a smile goes a long way. There’s no reason to laugh and not tell the guy he’s got spinach in his teeth (though, it would be really nice if you did tell him quietly).
Awkward moments are signals that we are all human. We share some of these experiences and feelings because we’re all worried about being judged. I guess the secret here is: no one is worrying about what you do more than you. So if you should happen to hold the door for someone who is walking really slow and it feels uncomfortable, shrug it off. They’re going to think you went out of your way to be nice! If you should so happen to think someone is talking to you when they’re really on a Bluetooth headset, it’s perfectly OK to own that moment. Smile, mouth an apology and go on with your merry way.
I think maybe we’re better for these moments because suddenly we have a shared reality. We have shared experiences that help us understand others, and how to be humans. Besides if we started owning our awkward moments and embracing our quirkiness, there might be less judgement in the world. Maybe not, but it’s a nice place to start.