1. When picking your nose, make sure there’s no one around you.
It should go without saying, but if you’re itching to pick a well-ripened booger, first take a quick survey around the room, would you? I hate nothing more than locking eyes with a stranger as his finger is knuckle-deep in his nostril.
2. Avoid being naked in a bright room.
The elusive morning after is obviously a hotbed of awkward moments. Everything’s always so much more comfortable the previous night, when you were both drunk and submersed in darkness. Now? You want to gouge your own eyes out. The sun makes it impossible to ignore the man sleeping next to you, and your stark soberness makes it even harder to play it cool. To avoid any further discomfort I highly encourage you to put on some clothes.
3. Don’t invite yourself places.
It’s possible that this will lead to you meeting new people, but there’s an even greater possibility that it will just lead to you feeling out of place. The only necessary condition you need to invite yourself somewhere is to have not been invited in the first place—a fact which, if addressed or thought about for too long, will surely precipitate an awkward self-consciousness.
4. Be aware of your surroundings.
Try not to be totally ignorant of the mechanisms at work around you. Don’t be the last person to realize that you’re smack dab in the middle of (and cramping the style of) two people trying to get it on.
Just make sure not to deprive yourself of sleep. A lack of it can cause a vast assortment of problems, many of which form the backbone to some of our greatest awkward encounters. For, it’s been proven that exhaustion often leads to a pervasive indifference, a lack in social skills, and a tendency to mumble a lot.
6. Don’t reach out of your comfort zone.
It’s easy, especially if we have a couple drinks in us, to let alcohol get the best of us and become supremely louder and more candid than usual. Be sure to stay your nerves and stifle those urges to blurt something out in haste. If you’re unsure of an answer, better you stay hushed than say something you’ll regret tomorrow. Like last night. When someone asked my friend Dave where he’s originally from, did I have to chime in with “Errrmmm, Boston?” No I did not. But I did, unchecked as I was, and that’s how I learned that my good friend Dave is from Virginia. It’s also how I forged an unshakable discomfort between us for the remainder of the night.
7. Don’t give your street a human puppet show.
To avoid being the most awkward human alive is often about checking up on the little things, like whether your curtains really shroud the inside of your apartment to onlookers. A quick run outside should tell you yes or no. That was how I learned that I had been giving my entire street a human puppet show for the last month. It also sheds some light on why I then chose to hide under my bed until daybreak.
8. Try not to reveal yourself as too thirsty.
Even if you are constantly parched, feigning nonchalance is always preferred. Because if you happen to out yourself as a thirstmonger, there won’t be much else for you to do than turn a bright crimson red and bow out with your tail between your legs.
Fashionista and skinny-legged-lady Alexa Chung taught me this one when I had the fortune of slaving around for her while I was working in retail. When I finally made it to the top floor with the item she asked for, she said, “Relax! I could hear you running from all the way up here!” A charming and helpful tip I would never forget!
9. Try not to slip on frozen shit.
These days, with at least a thin slab of ice covering every street, we really must make extra precautions to avoid awkwardness. Unless you want to be physically taken to the guillotine by Anna Wintour and her elves, then Uggs are out of the question. Which leaves you with one last option: to tip toe about the streets looking like a goddamn burglar. It’s important to always be one step ahead of yourself; if not, you’re liable to pull a me 2 days ago at 8pm and slip on a mixture of frozen piss and frozen shit, to then literally fall on top of another man. Spills of this ilk are actually the perfect conditions for developing social phobia.
10. Don’t say “I’m awkward.”
If you can avoid saying one thing, dear god let it be this. Saying “I’m awkward” will do nothing good for you; it will help your cause in no way, shape or form. Also, it’s safe to assume that if you’re saying this then you’re being redundant. As in, oh really? You’re awkward? You don’t say! I had no idea when you came in for the weakest, sardine-looking handshake I’d ever seen and then had trouble maintaining small talk.
11. Decrease the age of your target audience.
Sometimes the level of awkwardness has less to do with what you say, and more to do with who you say it too. If you consider yourself funny (and lord knows I do), but your jokes have consistently and triumphantly flopped, maybe it’s time you try the jokes on a different crowd. Maybe, instead of trying them on your friends, run up to a group of elementary school kids and lay it on them instead. I can assure you the response will be more welcoming, especially if you end the joke with “and that’s why I’m actually the secret princess of the world.”
12. Make sure your dressing room is secure.
In Brooklyn, there lies a vintage store, replete with western-inspired clothes, a distressed record player and lots of worn-out trunks in various pastels. In the back of said store lies a dressing room, which is covered by a lace, see-through sheet no larger than a square of toilet paper. If you are trying to avoid being the most awkward human alive, then you might want to start with avoiding this dressing room.
13. Don’t linger anywhere near the subway.
Be swift in your commute, wherever your destination may be. Avoid lingering or stalling any time you’re in the depths of the NYC subway system. Avoid standing still on the platform as throngs of humans stampede their way through rush hour.
14. Learn how to kiss hello like a champ.
And finally, greeting people. Make sure you have it down. Are you being introduced to a European? Then be prepared for the double kiss. Is this a classic white dude you’re meeting? Then steel yourself for an awkward back-pat hug. I had a traumatizing greeting experience recently, one which I will only share with you as a precautionary tale. I was with a more “professional” crowd, if you will, and was being introduced to an acquaintance’s boyfriend. A slight misstep in body language turned an innocent greeting into an ungainly one as I missed his cheek and kissed his earlobe instead.