“Get comfortable with awkward,” a good friend advised me recently when I was stressing over the contrast between confident, witty Margaret and the less sure-of-herself me whose been known to make the occasional appearance, even if only visible to me.
I had to ask for clarification. I don’t like awkward. Who does, really? It’s…well, you know…awkward.
If Awkward were a person, I’d avoid him. And I don’t mean just lower-my-gaze avoid – I mean sprint-in-the-other-direction avoid. I suspect I’m not alone.
The thing is, the window for awkward is generally situations that are new or different (where confidence has not yet moved in). Think of babies when they’re learning to walk. They’re all wobbly and unsure and – you guessed it – awkward. Of course we find that awkwardness cute – we encourage it – because we know it’s part of the experience that gets them/us to walking. If there were no awkward, no struggle, no learning, first steps would be no big deal.
Life throws us plenty of awkward curveballs – people we’d rather not talk to, situations we have no idea how to navigate, questions we didn’t see coming and don’t know how to answer, moments when it seems everyone around us knows exactly what to do and we don’t have a sweet clue.
I once arranged a photo shoot where I snapped photos of 15 hospital board members only to realize at the end of the shoot that I actually hadn't taken a single photo. Awkward. (And I offer this mild example of awkwardness only because I'm wary of bringing out the big awkward guns - Trust me - I've got them).
That - my friend assures me - is the perfect opportunity to get comfortable with Awkward. Settle in, sit back, look him in the eye and invite him for tea. Because along with Awkward can come Genuine and Vulnerable (who, although intimidating, has redeeming qualities and loads of opportunities). And if we skip over Awkward, we could be missing Awesome.