I like to talk about how awkward I am. And I am; I own it. My general demeanor can be very standoffish and without paying attention to my disposition, I often fall into chronic bitchface syndrome. People have told me that I look unfriendly until I actually open my mouth. I often respond that it’s my mind and body combining to hide my awkwardness. Just yesterday I had to inform someone who has seen me previously, but was apparently hesitant to introduce himself because of my demeanor. I said, “I’m so sorry! I am not unfriendly, I promise. I am just really awkward.” He laughed and commented, “Aren’t we all?”
And I think we are. I remember my first internship; the summer after my freshman year of college. One of my supervisors, Mike, would say, “Everyone is weird once you get to know them.” A lot of us like to hide our weirdness from the world. We like to conform to a certain expectation of society. And even when we are not conforming, we rebel directly against those expectations. We don’t want people to know our secret quirks or what makes us feel uncomfortable; we‘re constantly putting on a show and performing our identity within certain parameters that are based on our experiences.
One of my weird habits – which is a common one – is that I like talking to myself. Out loud. Now granted there are people who have no control over this behavior due to certain illnesses. But for the most part, I will be walking in the middle of the street, thinking about something, and all of a sudden start saying it out loud to myself. I have gotten stared at and embarrassingly had to stop and shift uncomfortably. After getting caught, however, I just end up laughing to myself because this person probably thinks there’s something wrong with me. And all I want to do is yell, “Dude, I talk to myself sometimes. I am entertaining as hell. What about it?”
Of course there are other things I am super awkward about – like when a guy I am attracted to is near me. I can usually barely form the words, “Hello” or I play the eye-game where I stare until he looks in my direction and of course when he does, I’ll look away. Or I try to act like a super impressive human being which in my head often involves raising my voice and talking about something interesting. And I’ll be lucky if the whole ordeal doesn’t pass without me tripping over something. All of this only happens if I decide to stay within the same vicinity rather than run away; because in my head it is absolutely normal to run from being around someone you find attractive. Or given some liquid courage, I have been known to say something along the lines of, “You’re really hot.” And go from there. Why? Because that’s who I am – awkward. And you know what? I like it. And some people do too. I call them my friends.
But the thing is I don’t really think I’m that different from most people around me. I think a lot of people are awkward and weird and have their quirks. Some people always look like their dancing whenever they have their headphones in, some people get super awkward when they’re around people they like. And most of us would probably admit to talking to ourselves in public. We’re all weird like that. And we’re weird in different ways.
One of my good friends from college said to me once, “I can’t believe how cool I thought you were before I actually got to know you. Now I know you’re as nerdy and awkward as they come.” I took it as a compliment and in his own weird way, I’m sure he meant it as one. If being cool means being the opposite of weird – I just don’t think most people fit the script. And if they do, they might be trying too hard. Most people are weird. And I think that’s a good thing. We all just have to work on letting the weirdness be.