College: University of Missouri
Major: Journalism and Business
After only two days of high school, one of them being freshmen orientation, I found my pre-teen, pasty, ginger, braced-faced self lost in a crowd of two thousand plus people. I had my over sized backpack and my hand-drawn, but detailed, map of the entire school. Yet, I was certain I was not going to survive high school. My heart started to beat faster as I moved through the massive crowd.
After squeezing my way through, I ran toward the stairwell while looking back and cursing under my breath at the swarm of people. I did not see what was ahead of me––a 6’5” wall of football-playing senior. I rammed into him, and somehow, in a perplexing balance of physics, my body did him in. The next thing I knew, he was on the ground. I couldn’t speak. I just waved my hands, stuttered, “Uh… wow… bye,” and sprinted up four flights of stairs. What followed were the most threatening words of my high school career: “Get back hur, punk!”
It’s not surprising that this would happen to me on my second day of school. I was awkward. I’ve had more than my fair share of awkward experiences throughout high school. My voice was a galumphing train ride of pitches. I wasn’t great at forming phrases that made sense. Worst of all, I was the kid who could never think of the right thing to say in the moment. My thoughts seemed to come out too early or too wrong.
At 6:59 a.m., jamming out to Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time,” I pulled into the sophomore lot. As I opened the door to my cherry red Dodge minivan, the loose seat belt caught my pudgy leg. In seconds I hit pavement. I picked my things up and tried to hold back tears of embarrassment. A snicker came from a tall skinny blonde girl standing right in front of me. Her beauty made me tear up even more. Our conversation went a little like this:
“Are you OK?”
“Can I help?”
“Help? Um…are you OK? I gotta go. Bye.”
As you probably guessed, I didn’t have many friends, and I was sure my awkwardness was the cause. How was I supposed to make friends if I didn’t feel comfortable with myself? So I devoted myself to changing this aspect ––my awkward nature.
But then junior year, while waiting for my girlfriend (yes, I know what you all are thinking––“how did he get a girlfriend?”), I was inspecting the vases in her family’s dining room cabinet. I swear I’m not making this up it is just a perfect example of how awkward I am. I turned to her mother and said, “You have such nice jugs.” From there it was all a blur; all I remember is her saying, “She’ll be down in a minute.”
Sure enough, my futile attempts at reform didn’t work. My awkward nature continued to be a part of who I was. This year, standing in a dolphin costume (which in no way resembled a dolphin) I urged the East populous to give money to an animal that didn’t even reside in our area. I thought to myself, “How awkward is this?” But I was having the time of my life in possibly the most awkward situation. So, it wasn’t really awkward after all.
Through this year, I’ve discovered that being awkward is a part of my nature that can’t be changed. I can use it to make people laugh. I can take deviant pleasure in making people feel uncomfortable. For example, this year I went around swimming my hand between other’s legs and crying out, “Awkward salmon!” (I apologize to all those who were subjected to the salmon). But most importantly, I found a disarming way to connect with everyone. Everyone has their awkward moments, and instead of being embarrassed them, they’re a part of us that should be embraced and enjoyed. The awkward moments in life are always what we remember fondly and will fuel our laughter for years to come.