Why You’re Probably Not As “Awkward” As You Think

awkward“I’m socially awkward.”

“Omygosh, that guy just came up here and started talking to me out of nowhere and it was so totally awkward.”

“Well shoot, that party is guaranteed to be awkward as all get-out.” 

“Do these boots look awkward with this outfit?!”

Friends, I must rant for one quick second. (‘Again, Erika?’ YES. AGAIN.)

You are not awkward. Talking to someone you do not know is not awkward. The majority of inanimate objects are not capable of being awkward. Your life is not a series of awkward events.

And for the love of all things holy, can we PLEASE stop over-using that word?

It’s ruining our collective ability to socialize, meet new people and be confident. Or at the very least, it’s ruining our ability to recognize people who are different  and interesting as different and interesting – their quirks are being overshadowed by the blanket term that is “awkward.” And as for referring to everything that happens in daily life as “awkward”? AHEM, life is messy and weird and whatever the “normal” you’re using as a baseline from which to deduce that something is, in fact, “awkward,” more than likely needs some adjusting. Give yourself (and everyone else) a bit of a break before you make the jump to judging behavior as “awkward.”

Point of clarification: the definition of awkward (is anyone else amazed at how many parts there are to this definition?!).

Awkward (awk-werd): adjective (from Dictionary.com)

  1. Lacking skill or dexterity. Synonyms: clumsy, inept, unskillful, unhandy, inexpert. Antonyms: def, adroit, skillful, dexterous, handy.
  2. Lacking grace or ease in movement; an awkward gesture; an awkward dancer. Synonyms: uncoordinated, graceless, ungainly, gawky, maladroit, clumsy. Antonyms: graceful.
  3. Lacking social graces or manners: a simple, awkward frontiersman. Synonyms: gauche, unpolished, unrefined, blundering, oafish, ill-mannered, unmannerly, ill-bred. Antonyms: gracious, polite, well-mannered, well-bred, smooth, polished, refined.
  4. Not well planned or designed for easy or effective use; an awkward instrument; an awkward method. Synonyms: unwieldy, combersome, unmanageable, inconvenient, difficult, troublesome.
  5. Requiring caution; somewhat hazardous: an awkward turn in the road. Synonyms: dangerous, risky, unsafe, chancy, perilous, precarious,treacherous.

There’s a whole lot of lacking in that definition. And a whole lot of not-so-great things.

Now. If I’m counting correctly, there were 29 synonyms in the definition above that are more often than not, the better way to describe your own or someone else’s behavior. Hence, my challenge to myself and everyone else?

Let’s stop making everything so damn oafish by behaving in such unwieldy ways and overusing the word “awkward” to describe every moment of every day. 

Because the word “awkward,” despite the current pop cultural obsession with the word, is not synonymous with ‘cute’ or ‘socially desirable’ or ‘adorable,’ no matter how much New Girl you watch.

Here’s to more varied diction!

Ahoy. End rant.

Do you overuse awkward? Which of the synonyms above do you like best? I’m about to search really hard for reasons to use gauche in everyday conversation.

  • http://breakthesky.net/ Manda

    Haha, I overuse the term awkward aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the time. Mainly because it is. Also, it’s a term that everyone just GETS. I’m much more comfortable describing myself/situations that I find myself in as awkward than other people, though. It’s one of those self-deprecating things I guess.

    • http://allthingseblog.com/ Erika Sevigny

      You’re totally right – people do GET awkward. You actually raise a really good point here: you’re more comfortable describing YOURSELF as awkward, which, in my opinion, isn’t as bad as describing other people/situations as awkward. I think my main issue with the term is when it prohibits people from trying new stuff – i.e. talking to people in bars, going out with new groups of people, etc. I think that our standards of ‘awkward’ makes it hard to get past the first few interactions and get to know people. That’s mostly what I”m getting at. :)

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