By reading my blog you might think that I am a socially skilled person. You might not think that. If you don’t think that, well, you are right. I am not. I am awkward at times and have been my entire life. Or at least for as long as I can remember. On birthdays I wouldn’t be able to keep a conversation going much, it just doesn’t work. I start to ask stupid questions that I already know or have already asked. Or I just keep completely silent and feel the incredible sense of discomfort from the other person. I am trying to dig through my brain for questions to ask and so are they.
Even my first kiss must have been awkward. Even though this is a situation in which most people would feel a bit uncomfortable. But I was 18 years old I believe when I had my first kiss. It was incredibly awkward on my end because I didn’t want to offend her. So I held off a bit. Doing all these awkward things like swinging your arms, tapping your feet on the ground, or coming up with stupid conversational topics, like how is school? Just to keep the conversation going. I was quite tensed, to say the least. My, by now, girlfriend on the other hand was extremely relaxed. So she kissed me. It was a shock. How could I have been so awkward about it?
But these aren’t the only stories there are many more that I would want to share with you. I just find them incredibly funny. Especially the stories of my first few days at my new job. For some reason meeting new people and trying something new invokes a sort of constant error in my brain. I just shut down the part of the brain that can make understandable sentences. So if I have a question I most of the time need to repeat it thrice for the other to understand. How hard could it be right? Well, take this example of me and my college cleaning out the car. I work for a company that delivers groceries right on people’s doorsteps. So after each run, we need to clean out the car. Instead of doing this in harmony and communicating with my colleague I just stand next to them. There is no word leaving my mouth or any question. So my colleague looks at me and asks me if he could help? To which I reply “blu bla hmm ja na hmm” Yes you’re right you can’t make shit of that sentence. To keep it short I was trying to ask for help but it didn’t come outright.
These moments are incredibly awkward. The point is that we are all uncomfortable and awkward at times. It just happens. Some more than others, like myself. That doesn’t mean that we should try to be less awkward. Confidence and being awkward can go together.
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Being confident with discomfort
I always thought that being awkward was bad. That you should always have some sort of social skill and need to be able to formulate long-form sentences. I couldn’t, well in most cases at least. You might experience the same things and it could be breaking your confidence and joy in these situations. Now that is something I wouldn’t want. Because being awkward comes from being uncomfortable in the place you are in. It means you don’t trust yourself and your social ability. I can completely understand. It’s crippling at times to get to know new people or are in a situation where there are just massive amounts of impulses. But isn’t this who you are? You just have some awkward personality trades. You can’t be ashamed of that.
So being awkward comes from being uncomfortable. For example, if you are uncomfortable in a new situation. Take a new workplace. It’s your first day at work. You are a bit anxious about what you can expect of this first day at work. So the anxious feeling starts to settle into discomfort. You come in and want to give the manager a hand to introduce yourself. But you forget that you aren’t allowed to shake hands anymore. So you pull it away. It’s the very first awkward situation. You don’t say anything about what just happened, but your body reacts with a light blush on your cheeks. The manager turns around after the introduction and starts explaining things to you. During the day many more of these moments happen and you feel like a loser. But are you?
I don’t believe you are. You are just anxious about the new situation and therefore forget to be confident in your discomfort. It’s okay to make these mistakes if you could even call them mistakes. I would rather name them accidents. It just happens and you can’t do much about it. All you can do is to try and not feel awkward. So take the introduction fiasco. What if you did the following. You still want to shake the manager’s hand, but realize that isn’t allowed anymore. But instead of pulling it away awkwardly, you pull it away and make a joke about it. Poef. The discomfort is gone and the tension in your body as well. All of a sudden the situation feels much more relaxed. Your new manager is more at ease and you showed him that you are much more confident. This is one of the qualities most people get judged on. It isn’t their looks or way of acting but whether they are confident with it or not.
I am still awkward
I haven’t changed anything about myself. I am still that awkward and uncomfortable dude in communication. I still try to get more social it just always works out in the wrong way. I either get to social and ask questions like, how are you doing thrice. Or I ask too little and end up with silences. Yet I have changed. Yes, I have changed. I’ve become confident in my ability to be awkward. You see people don’t judge you on your uncomfortable trades or actions. If you mess up or want to give someone a fist bump whilst they want to give you a handshake you still can be confident. You still can recover from that without making it awkward. This is the most important. Confidence isn’t found in not doing anything awkward it is found in not caring about whether or not it is awkward.
If you mess up just make a joke, don’t cover it up make it fun. Make it something to laugh about or simply don’t say anything and embrace it. Blaming yourself for doing these things will in no shape or form help you. Trust me. I’ve tried so hard to become a non-awkward social human being like everyone else. I just seem to invoke these awkward trades. I am much better at making jokes out of them than trying to cover them up or try to be less awkward. So the most important thing here is that you start to feel more confident in being uncomfortable and awkward. It’s a different approach than trying to be less awkward, but trust me you will feel way better staying your authentic self and being more confident with that.
The three things I have done to embrace my discomfort
- Embracing silence
Yes, embrace silence. This is one of those things that gets you all jittery and anxious. Silence forces us to listen to our inner voice whilst with someone else. Most of the time this inner voice is roasting us. Telling us we are awkward losers or trying to get us to say or do something we would rather not do. Tim Ferriss the author of Tools for Titans and creator of the Tim Ferriss show has this one video on his YouTube that explains how you can practice embracing silence and discomfort. The link is right here This is one of his videos on becoming more confident with who you are. It has massively helped me get confident in my discomfort. I now try to look at people more in the eye. This is an ongoing process. With friends and family, this has become easy. I can now sit across the table from someone and look them in the eyes when they speak. Of course, I’ll look away once in a while to not make this disturbing for them but if they speak I look them in the eye more often than not. This is the setup to embracing silence. Why?
Well by embracing the discomfort of looking someone in the eye you get used to that feeling. That uneasy and troubling feeling within your chest or stomach. As well as dealing with the ego-mind constantly trying to make you feel bad for making mistakes in conversations or leaving in silences. Now next time there is a silence try to embrace it. Now, what do I mean by that? Don’t try to instantly come up with a topic like the weather, sports, or anything else. Just leave the conversation where it is for a moment. Try to get back in touch with yourself. Do you feel tensed? Do you feel the other person is tensed? Try to become present in these moments instead of constantly babbling on about something. This will not only make you more confident with who you are but if you can be comfortable with these silences you give of a vibe of being confident. Confidence is a feeling that someone gets when you are around. It isn’t necessarily found in the words you use or the things you do. It is mostly found in the unsaid things. Like posture, silence, and energy. Think of that.
Confidence is found in the things unsaid.
- Feeling discomfort
This one is closely related to embracing silence. I already named it. It is feeling the discomfort in your body. Feeling where it is located. Is it in your chest? Your belly? Legs? Hand? Where is it? Where can you find your discomfort? If you can locate it in your body you most of the time lose focus of what you are uncomfortable about. This simple trick gets you out of your ego-mind and into your body. Releasing you from the negative self troubling thoughts the ego might create.
Most of the time I start to laugh. Especially when the thing I do is awkward. If you fuck up, you can’t cover it up. You just embrace it and laugh at it. These moments of discomfort give us a sign to grow. To show us where the growth is for us. This video of Abraham J. Twerski explains it best. He explains how a lobster grows but his shell doesn’t. That if the lobster is getting uncomfortable in its shell it sheds it under a rock and grows a new one. This process goes on and on until it has reached maximum growth. So should we. This discomfort you feel is showing you that you should start to grow your confidence in who you are. It isn’t showing you to learn new social skills or go see a doctor or anything. No, it is showing you that you are fine as you are. That you can become confident with who you are, as you are. This is the growth we can embrace if we start to feel our discomfort. After all, there are many moments to come into our lives that will make us feel uncomfortable. Will we run from all of them by trying to cover them up then? Or try to grow new skills that help us outgrow them and become confident in who we are.
- Making jokes
The last tip I will give you is making jokes about your awkward actions. Or at least admit your discomfort. This is one of the traits that make a person look confident. If you admit you made a mistake in a way like joking about it or saying you made a mistake you show that you don’t care what the outcome is. You just care about what to do next. You are self-conscious and this is one of those traits not many people show. They much rather try to hide their awkward action than embrace it.
They think that this is a trait of confidence, but it is not. It is fully embracing it by joking about it yourself or just straight up saying it. Back in the days when we were allowed to shake hands, I would often want to give a handshake to someone wanting to give me a fist bump. Instead of feeling extremely uncomfortable I would simply laugh and do it all over. This time doing it right. Or I would grab their hand and shake it and then laughing about it.
It’s not the act we do that makes us uncomfortable but the way react to it that shows true confidence.
So start making that trade you now see as awkward and uncomfortable your way of being you. Be confident with it. Embrace it!
Ignore the critics
Now, this has been said often, but ignore the ones critiquing you. There is no need to bother. If you start to bother with them you are far from becoming confident. It is not that they aren’t confident themselves but it is that you have an opportunity to start living a joyful and peaceful life all the time. Not worrying about what others think of you. Making fun of yourself and not taking life so seriously when you mess up.
This is who you are, you should embrace it! Now don’t start to blame yourself if the next time you feel uncomfortable you still try to hide it. This is amazing! Why? Because you are now conscious that you are hiding it. Appreciate that. Appreciate that this discomfort is showing you that you have now reached a point to evolve. To grow. That is why this is an appreciation of the feeling of discomfort and being awkward.
This again is a reminder that Today I Lived!