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Kathy Tun

Say good-bye to your awkward days

We all want to be heard and to be understood. At the same time, we all have a fear that we have too much insecurity or weirdness hindering our ability to connect with other people. Or am I the only one who feels this way? Ah goodness, I hope not.

Well, this just got awkward.

Now what does awkward even mean? I hear people using the word awkward to describe their own selves during a conversation when they feel embarrassed. People even use it as an apology as in, “Sorry, I’m awkward” or “Oh yeah I totally got awkward there.” Saying things like this turns all those rare moments of vulnerability into moments of dread. We laugh it off in the moment using that handy little word. But then later in the privacy of our own rooms, we playback the “awkward moment” and curse ourselves for being so stupid. Resigned to forever cover up any future social encounter with an apology, we hide behind a self-inflicted title.

Let me tell you ... you are not awkward.

At the most, you are a work in progress just like the rest of us. Every time you are out in public with other people, you are given an opportunity to practice expressing yourself. Make this your mantra instead: Today is practice. You will feel less inclined to worry about social encounters afterward because today was a new trial and error experience. Certainly like any other skill, you may struggle at times to feel comfortable when talking to other people. Maybe you’ll stumble across your words, speak too softly or quickly, or speak your innermost thoughts out loud. Never fear that this experience could actually be a good thing.

How will you know who you are if you do not give yourself the permission to be you, regardless of what others might think? Social encounters are a great way to learn about yourself and the quirks that make up your personality. Of course, some awkwardness may be due to nerves, but for the most part, your beliefs and the way you express them can tell you a lot about the person you are today — not the person you will be for the rest of your life.

Because, remember, today is practice. You are right in the middle of life’s meat and potatoes. This is a time rich with learning experiences and great opportunities to connect with other people just as you are. Rather than excusing yourself for your personality, keep trying to find ways to communicate in a way that you feel proud of yourself. When you can reach this level of confidence you will attract the right kind of people into your life, the ones who don’t mind if you are “awkward.”

In the process, surrounding yourself with a supportive network of people will help you grow as a person. Soon enough your awkward days will become non-existent. What used to be awkward will now just be another part of who you are. And you’ll begin to believe that even those parts of your personality are pretty great.

Kathy Tun of Spring Valley is a junior at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington. She can be reached in care of this newspaper at P.O. Box 340, Princeton, IL 61356.