Let’s talk about, um, awkwardness. Or whatever.

So, like, yeah.

Awkwardness.

What’s up with that?

I would estimate that about 90% of my family and friends would agree that I’m awkward.

One friend, Chelsia, would argue that I’m not “that” awkward, but that’s only because she is way more fucking awkward. (Love you, Chelsia.)

Taking into consideration my self-professed self-awareness, neurosis, and useless talent of seemingly intellectualizing trivial things, I have decided to pretend to be an awkwardness expert and present to you a rambling report on all things awkward. Questions such as

  • What does it mean to be awkward?
  • Is it more to do with the situation or the individuals/parties involved?
  • What impact does self-awareness have on being awkward?
  • Do you have to feel awkward for the situation to be awkward?
  • What makes a situation awkward?
  • Are some things universally awkward?

will probably not be answered in any satisfactory way or at all, sorry. I said I’m going to pretend to be an awkwardness expert, gosh. You actually expect me to do any real work?

So, okay. Let’s try and define awkwardness.

From dictionary.com:

“lacking social graces or manners: a simple, awkward frontiersman. Synonyms: gauche, unpolished,unrefined; blundering, oafish; ill-mannered, unmannerly, ill-bred. Antonyms: gracious; polite, well-mannered, well-bred; smooth, polished, refined.”

Okay, the synonyms and antonyms are totally untrue. I know plenty of awkward polite people!

From Merriam-Webster:

5. a :  lacking social grace and assurance <an awkwardnewcomer>

:  causing embarrassment <an awkward moment>

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.

From Oxford Dictionaries:

  • causing or feeling embarrassment or inconvenience: he had put her in a very awkward situation
  • not smooth or graceful; ungainly:
    Luther’s awkward movements impeded his progress
    she was long-legged and rather awkward

Okay, embarrassment, social ineptitude, we get it.

From my housemate:

“When you feel weird.”

Pretty vague, but somehow it hits the spot. “Weird” I would interpret as being “uncomfortable” in the case of awkwardness, which can be best described by thoughts such as, “Uh…,” “I don’t know what to do or say,” “This is wrong.”  Embarrassment I would argue is different, in that it is more extreme and shame-inducing, comparable to thoughts along the lines of, “Oh my God, why is this happening,” “What the hell,” and “I’m going to crawl under a rock and die now, kbye.”

An Awkward Situation that is just “weird”

Jessica*, an acquaintance whom I will admit to having a girl-crush on, invites me to her kickback. I attend mostly out of obligation. We are circles apart. She is one of those people you feel is likable enough, but you never exactly click with for some reason–the kind of person you’d be down to hang out with if she made the effort, but no one you’d want to spend all night telling deep dark secrets to. I make small talk with her, run out of things to say, and start feeling weird and wondering if I should grab another beer just to have something to do with my hands. I leave the party early, but not before telling her goodbye. I reach for a hug–she hugs me back, but also kisses my cheek. ACK WHAT. Her perfect lips on my gross, oily cheek WHAT HAS SHE DONE!! NOOO SHE HAS BESMIRCHED HER MOUTH WITH THE FOULNESS OF MY CHEEK OH GOD NO. I freeze for a split second, wondering if I should kiss her back, but instantly recoil at the idea of planting my contaminated lips on her flawless face. Also I am not a touchy-feely person. Also slight homoerotic feelings aside, she is merely an Acquaintance. So I simply stick with the hug and get the hell out of there.

*Name has been changed to protect the awkward

An Awkward Situation that is “embarrassing”

Walking around with a period stain on my ass and not realizing until later ACKKK WTF FML FML OMFG WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME?! Okay, so I probably wouldn’t go up to a stranger and tell them either. But there should be some policy around these things! “Be it a period stain on one’s posterior, a something in one’s teeth, a prominent booger in one’s nose, or anything remotely to do with the disruption of one’s personal appearance, it is your forthright duty as a sympathetic and decent fellow human being to discreetly and kindly inform the victim of their unfortunate happenstance, thereby allowing them to take the necessary measures to eliminate or at the very least minimize the impropriety to which they have befallen.” Or yenno, something like that.

So as I suspected, awkwardness is comprised of two factors, which can be overlapping or isolated:

  1. personal feelings of embarrassment, “weirdness,” and social dysfunction (inside your head)
  2. causing others to feel embarrassment, “weirdness,” and social dysfunction (outside your head)

These factors are important in determining whether an individual or situation is awkward.

Sometimes, it’s all just in your head.

An Awkward situation that is just in my head

Um, I’m drawing a blank here, sorry. Everything I think is awkward is just plain awkward to me, okay. How can you really ever get confirmation that something you feel was awkward, is in fact not awkward at all?

But rest assured, sometimes what you feel isn’t necessarily what others are feeling, which lessens the awkwardness. I mean, it’s not really possible that everything agonizing and uncomfortable for you, would also be equally agonizing and uncomfortable for everyone else involved. Right?

Well, at least that’s what I tell myself. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to abide by this rule, if only as a means of self-preservation. If you just freak out on the inside about some stupid thing you just said or did, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just act calm and unfazed, and no one will really pick up on it, and you know…people have really shitty memories for that sort of thing, in my experience.

There have been times when I have done things that other people find awkward, but I personally don’t find awkward at all, although I have acknowledged the awkwardness of my actions in retrospect. It’s just that, I don’t give a rat’s ass. Which I guess makes me less an awkward individual and more of an asshole.

Awkward Situations that are outside of my head

  • Suddenly lying down to take a nap in the midst of boring company
  • Laughing out loud because some funny thought just struck me and not sharing with others why I am laughing
  • Saying “Uh…” for a really long time when someone asks me a question that I don’t have an answer to just yet because for some reason I think it’s okay to not-think out loud
  • Talking about sex in a very flippant manner
  • Randomly bursting into song (almost always a pop song)
  • Pointing out odd quirks that people would rather I not have taken the time to observe and vocally express directly to them about them
  • Asking people if I’m being awkward, which (who knew?) makes things more awkward

awkward1

Whatever, people are weird.

I’m not sure if being aware that I’m awkward has made me more or less awkward than I would be had I not been aware of it. In a way, I might be the worse off for it because then my awkwardness becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: “I’m awkward! So I’m just going to keep being awkward, because that’s who I am! Yay, humiliation! Faux pas for the win!”

Then again, I would rather not be obliviously awkward. I know of one particular individual who is awkward and in the complete dark about it. She makes dumb, insensitive remarks all the time and has no idea of how uncomfortable people become when they are around her. To this day, she still thinks we are friends to some degree when no, we’re not and I’m not sure how to tell her without sounding like a total bitch. (The “Sorry, I’m busy” line doesn’t have an expiration date does it?)

There are a couple of people I know who self-identify as not-awkward. I would agree that for the most part they are indeed not awkward. They adhere to social scripts just fine, adjust as the occasion warrants it, and respond fairly well to anything deviant thrown at them. One such person would be Dino Head, the humanoid robot I mentioned in previous blog posts.

An Awkward Situation Made Less Awkward by a Non-Awkward Person

Girl Spoonerism (1:18:10 AM):   hey, i have to tell you…something

Girl Spoonerism (1:18:15 AM):   lol

Macfinder25 (1:18:18 AM):         sure, what’s up?

Girl Spoonerism (1:18:44 AM):   i have to be melodramatic again

Girl Spoonerism (1:18:48 AM):   i can’t talk to you anymore

Girl Spoonerism (1:19:05 AM):   so..um..goodbye?

Macfinder25 (1:19:06 AM):         ok, why’s that?

Macfinder25 (1:19:12 AM):         if it’s okay to tell me

Girl Spoonerism (1:20:00 AM):   because i’ve been kind of obsessed with you and that’s really creepy sad and pathetic and i need to stop

Girl Spoonerism (1:20:06 AM):   but thanks for all the advice

Girl Spoonerism (1:20:08 AM):   lol

Macfinder25 (1:20:18 AM):         Ah, alright. You’re welcome.

Macfinder25 (1:20:26 AM):         Best of luck with your future endeavors.

Girl Spoonerism (1:20:50 AM):   you too.

Girl Spoonerism (1:21:16 AM):   jeez, you still have to be all formal at the end?

Macfinder25 (1:21:25 AM):         I thought it would help?

Girl Spoonerism (1:24:29 AM):   nope.

Girl Spoonerism (1:24:32 AM):   am i creeping you out?

Macfinder25 (1:24:43 AM):         No, we’ve only chatted over IM, really.

Girl Spoonerism (1:29:02 AM):   …this is stupid.

Macfinder25 (1:29:12 AM):         ?

Girl Spoonerism (1:30:20 AM):   i bid thee farewell, good sir

Macfinder25 (1:30:29 AM):         Goodbye 🙂

Who was awkward in that situation? Me. (Duh.) Who was not? Him.

Ackkkkkkkkkkk

Okay whatever I’m over it, it’s been 3 years goddamnit.

(And I know I know I know. I said I wouldn’t talk about Dino Head but my–ermm–experience with him is ripe with awkward fodder that is perfect for exemplification in this totes awkward blog post!)

Anyway, that’s not to say that non-awkward persons cannot cause awkwardness. They are just better at handling awkwardness, whereas awkward individuals like me tend to freak out and make things even worse.

An Awkward Situation Made Even More Awkward by a Supposedly Non-Awkward Person, Surprisingly Enough

After two years of silence, I reached out to Dino Head again. And started obsessing over him again. Ugh. But finally I found the courage to meet him in person. In previous correspondence with him, I learned that he enjoyed dancing and was purportedly good at it. I asked to see a Youtube video of his alleged talent, not caring about the creeper implications of my request. He said he would show me in person, once he was back in the Bay. So of course, I held him to his word when we met up at a dive bar on Piedmont. He was somewhat perplexed by my insistence on seeing his dance moves, but was happy to oblige. “Not here, though,” he said, glancing over at the somber-faced men playing pool. “This isn’t really a place to dance.”

“Just dance out on the street!” I urged.

“Let’s just find a club,” he said.

We left the bar and drove downtown in his fancy ass car. The nightclub he had in mind had some standup thing happening that night, so that was a no-go. We headed back to his car.

He paused at the curb and put in his earphones. “Well, I’m starting to feel a little weird about this, but here goes nothing.”

I stopped and stared. “Uh…” He was dancing to music only he could hear, and I’m not even trying to romanticize this shit, like literally he was dancing to what was probably some obscure electronic shit on his smartphone that I couldn’t hear like at all because he had his earphones plugged in, so all I saw was a scrawny white dude kicking his legs up in silence while I was just standing there with him on the street not knowing what to do or say or how to respond and it was just so, so incredibly awkward.

“Shouldn’t I be listening to the music too?” I said.

He kept dancing.

“SHOULDN’T I BE LISTENING TO THE MUSIC TOO?”

He stopped. “How would that work?”

“I don’t know…blast your car speakers, or something.”

He ended up doing just that, and it was slightly less awkward. The whole damn thing was awkward, but at least it wasn’t awkward specifically because of him. It was awkward in general because of me, but that just meant things were normal.

I think I’ve tackled quite a range of awkward scenarios. But what about a situation made awkward by the sheer fact that two awkward people were interacting with each other rather awkwardly, as not witnessed by a third party non-awkward non-observer? (This will make sense, I promise.)

A Situation Made Awkward by the Sheer Fact that Two Awkward People Were Interacting With Each Other Rather Awkwardly, As Not Witnessed by a Third Party Non-Awkward Non-Observer

The other day, my good friend Darcy and I were walking down Piedmont, drinking boba and window shopping. I ran into someone I had a class with back at Mills. I think our eyes lit up in recognition at the same time. “Oh! Hi!” I said.

“Hi!” she said. She had a clipboard in hand. Apparently she had some sort of job canvassing.

We stood there looking at each other for a second. Uh, should I hug her? Okay I’m just gonna do it. I hugged her. She responded in what seemed to be surprise or reluctance. Or both. Ugh.

Damnit, now I had to introduce the two. “This is my friend Eve. This is my friend Darcy.” Several cars whooshed by.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch your name. What is it?” Darcy asked.

“Eva.” Oh shit thank you random cars.

We made some small talk but there were a lot of weird pauses thrown in. Spaces unfilled. Our fixed smiles, unsure of what else to say. Trailing off topics, disconnecting, echoes of each other’s words that left us with nothing to go on. Empty-handed tongues.

She was still at Mills. Hadn’t been able to do much writing. You? Oh, I’m working on a screenplay. Oh, okay. We should totally do a writing group! Yeah! Yeah! …So what’s this petition about? Oh, it’s protesting the dangers of fracking. Oh, I know about fracking! Cool! I won’t ask you for money! Awesome! Great! …

God, the awkwardness! Ackkk. I just wanted the conversation to end already. Even as I was talking to her, I was madly trying to assess the situation and figure out why the hell it was so goddamn awkward. Is this all in my head? I wondered. No, no, it doesn’t feel like it. It can’t just be me either. It really did seem like she was part of the problem too. She was mirroring my every awkward move. But who started it? Did it matter?

Darcy, being the friendly and sociable person she can be, steered the conversation towards our shitty shit economy, thereby sustaining the conversation longer than was absolutely necessary. Damn you, Darcy! I waited for it to die down again into a kind of lull. The job market sucks no matter what field you’re in? Yup. Yup. Yup. … Alas! An opportune moment to disengage, perhaps? I lunged for it. “Well, we should probably let you get back to your job!” I said brightly. “It was nice seeing you!”

I hesitated again. Should I try hugging her again? Okay fuck it whatever it would take to get this thing over with. I went in for another hug. Look at me, Miss Smooth-Talking-Friendly-Gesture-Person! Not. It was one of the worst hugs I had given in a while. Our arms were misaligned and she was just so surprised by it, like bitch why are you so surprised people hug in situations like this all the time I swear I am acting normal goddamnit! Yeah, it was just…all bad. The most superficial and contrived thing I had the displeasure and misfortune of initiating this week. “See you!” I said. I couldn’t stop talking in exclamation points.

“See you! Say no to fracking!” she called after us, accompanied by goofy finger guns.

I fake-laughed and walked off with Darcy, internally cringing at the entire exchange.

“Wasn’t that awkward?” I exclaimed when we were a good two blocks away.

“Huh? No, it didn’t seem awkward to me.” She shrugged.

“Really?”

“I was mostly focused on how much taller I am in these shoes than both of you.”

awkward2

So.

What to conclude from all of this?

  • Awkwardness: feelings of embarrassment or discomfort caused by a deviation from or mishandling of social protocol
  • I’m awkward
  • I should stop talking to random dudes from the Internet (emphasis on “should”)
  • I’m awkward

And most importantly,

  • I’m awkward

tl;dr I am an awkward asshole who rambles a lot. And should really seriously stop talking to random dudes from the Internet

4 thoughts on “Let’s talk about, um, awkwardness. Or whatever.

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