You should know that you aren’t alone in your awkward moments in life. I know it may feel that way but we all have them. You don’t have to berate yourself or wish them away. That just perpetuates the isolation that keeps the cycle going.
There is a great tool for being less awkward that I want to share with you.
Until I looked at my embarrassing and awkward experiences, I didn’t realize how they all related. Many of these are just normal events that happen (and some aren’t). If you are or were very sensitive like me, just know that there is a key to unlocking it’s hold on you and breaking the cycle of awkwardness and judgment.
When I take a look at all the stories of awkwardness, I now see the patterns of avoidance. This prevented me from ever learning the lessons life was trying to teach me. When you are sensitive, you are a bit OVER tuned-in. Avoiding seems like the solution that will keep you safe.
The tool, the key to resolving your self awkwardness and judgment is not avoidance, it is the exact opposite.
It’s true acceptance and not taking yourself so seriously. It’s not the end of the world if you make a mistake.
Accept who you are and your life purpose. That’s where the real magic happens.
By allowing the bad or awkward out in the open, I learned you can deal with them and allow yourself to learn the lessons your life is trying to teach you. Maybe if I had let myself learn them sooner, I wouldn’t have had so darn many.
Eventually you may learn that your sensitivity is a true gift and will allow you to tune into others. When you aren’t doing that, you are over tuned in to how imperfect you think you appear.
I found this powerful book The Life You Were Born to Live: A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose by Dan Millman and it helped me to learn and be open to the fact that maybe these things were there to help me overcome the challenges I was meant to overcome to become the person I was meant to be.
I was supposed to go through these experiences so I could learn how to overcome blocked self-expression, oversensitivity, and self-doubt. I encourage you to check out Dan’s site to see what it says about your life purpose. Always make your own decisions in your own life but it’s interesting to see what it says to see your struggles through a new lens and as a part of a larger story of finding your life purpose.
You can be a little kinder to yourself instead of judging and be willing to be open to the idea that we are not meant to be perfect empty blobs with no purpose. Things are supposed to be messy and you may find your purpose when you let yourself and your life be imperfect.
These childhood experiences transformed into new problems in adulthood but it’s helpful to look back to see where it started. This is not an exercise in living in the past, because we want to move forward, it’s just to see things looking from the outside and building up an understanding and an awareness.
These awkward moments are just that, they are moments. They do not define us. Outside of shyness, awkwardness, and traumas, we can still be happy, confident, and authentic while we become less awkward and more our natural selves.
The goal is to learn new ways of processing the moments in our lives and gaining the tools to respond differently and accept ourselves to improve the quality of our lives.
1: Be awkward and you’ll be less awkward. If you have to wear really bad glasses, braces, or anything unflattering. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
2: Have heart. Build up and act on your instinct. You don’t have to know all the answers or do things the best or right way. Instead of trying to appear perfect, take a moment and look around to make a decision from your instinctive heart.
3: Say yes to yourself. Face and accept yourself and your fears. Instead of wishing them away or making everything so scary that you avoid them, accept them and yourself.
1. Glasses and Braces. I got glasses in kindergarten and had to wear a patch over my good eye to make my bad eye stronger. I dealt with them by not looking anyone in the eyes and hoping no one would notice. How would no one notice? I had a patch over an eye and my other was covered by a coke bottle lens. I just dealt with it by not wearing them anymore. Later I had the worst braces and literally couldn’t talk and was teased about them. I just sunk down in my chair for a few years and didn’t talk unless I had to. Find your grace by embracing the awkwardness life can present.
2. The school bus and the cafeteria. I totally felt like Forest Gump when I had to go to a new school. Nowhere to sit in the school bus and nowhere to sit for lunch. Once at the end of the day for my first day in a new school, I was too shy to find out what bus I was supposed to get on so I just got on any old bus and hoped it would all work out. I didn’t get on the right bus. Ask for help.
3. The time I cut all of my hair off. I dyed my hair every color known to man in an attempt to ‘improve’. It was eventually crispy fried. Instead of stopping early on and dealing with it rationally, I just kept going. Then I started cutting it. I cut it a little bit, and then a little bit more. Before you know it, it was a short, mangled, fried mess. Instead of dealing with a small problem, I tried to cover it up until it got worse and worse. Deal with problems head on and early on.
4. I was playing the piano in music class and because everyone was looking at me, I overthought it. I never feel normal when I felt eyes on me. I kept almost sitting down but didn’t look back to see if the chair was or was not there. I kept half sitting and standing the whole time I was playing the piano because I was unsure of whether or not it was there. I was unsure of myself and created an awkward moment out of nowhere. This is a small moment but it’s representative of what we do. Social awkwardness is invented by trying to appear normal when you feel out of place. Just stop and be natural. Turn around to find the chair, sit down, and do your thing.
5. In first or second grade school I was too shy to enter through the big kids classroom to go to the restroom. I walked up and looked through the window several times and couldn’t get the courage. I saw them all sitting there. Surely, if I walked through the room they would see me walking to the bathroom and for some reason, I found that to be mortifying. I’ll end there. Make natural choices based on being a human being and don’t care what anyone thinks.
6. In JV cheerleading and we stood in a circle doing stupid jumps and I couldn’t do them. I hated cheerleading, it was daily torture. I only did it to try to be cool. I had the same negative experiences in volleyball. I enjoyed running and never once did it cross my mind to join track because none of my friends did it. Pay attention to how ‘you’ feel and what ‘you’ want instead of trying to be that idealistic student or employee. It’s your life and you should find what you enjoy and do it.
7. In Tae Kwon Do, I was supposed to kick and break the board. I was in this all ages class and it was basically all adults. I had this awful perm too which made me self-conscious. I felt so uncomfortable and had to do these kicks and punches with adults when I super shy. When we were graduating from one belt to the next, we had to kick and break a board. I kept kicking and nothing happened. Everyone and their guests were watching me and it continued and continued. The teacher finally realized they gave me an adult board and I broke it. Inside I assumed I was the problem instead of thinking it may be something outside me. Remind yourself that it may be the board and not you.
8. I did an audition in front of a camera in one of those auditorium cattle call situations. I just stared at the camera a dozen times and it was played in front of a huge audience and then I didn’t learn my lines for the audition in front of that same audience and I had to exit stage without getting a single line out successfully. I just thought I’d magically do everything right but it turned into this weird out of body experience. I wasn’t in my own skin. I didn’t prepare. I wasn’t confident and just lied to myself hoping it would ‘all work out’. Learn to work with what you have instead of hoping it will magically work out without trying. Give yourself a chance. and put in the time to succeed.
9. I had to put a pie in the face of someone at a Pep Rally. First off, these Pep Rally’s were a nightmare situation to start for someone like me. I had to put a pie in the face of someone in front of the crowd. I did it way too hard trying to be funny. I was so embarrassed to learn I had done it too hard and everyone came up to me angry about it later. So now I’m awkward and hurting people. More of the same when I went to prom with a complete stranger and we didn’t say a word to each other the entire night. Trying to fit in to these clichés is a nightmare in high school when you never feel like you fit in. Later I opted for alcohol to compensate socially and it took 20 years to unlearn this harmful answer. Just be, let things happen, don’t feel the need to always be fixing or doing something, and react honestly in the moment.
10. I fainted in sex ed multiple times and in multiple schools. I’m not kidding. I tried to block out what the teachers were saying to not let it scare me but that only amplified the fear and what they were saying. I’d raise my hand to leave but every time it was too late. I’d wake up on the floor in a cold sweat with all eyes on me and was being taken away in an ambulance. Instead of dealing with my fears and problems, I was just excused from these classes. This brought on a unique form of teasing that made me happy to move to a new school. Address your fears, don’t just ignore or try to forcefully resist them, that will only make them worse.
After you do a look back and see how these things all connect to you finding your purpose. See all the pain and struggles as a part of your plan. Zoom out on your life and on these situations and build up your present as who you are now. Tear down idealism, who you think you should be. Where you think you should be living. What you should be doing. How you should be doing it.
Be honest with yourself. Be honest about your feelings, dreams, and fears. You are a human being. It’s ok to be uncomfortable. You don’t need to compensate or lie about who you are.
When it gets hard to find your way back, remember to take a step back, maybe several, connect with your heart, find your intuition, and just start being you from there.
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