I remember when my path to awkward life started. I was in grade 8 and I was getting a ride with my youth pastor and some other kids to an event. I was sitting in the back and there was a new girl with us. My pastor turned around and asked her how old she was. Before she could open her mouth, I proudly exclaimed that I was 13.  Awkward silence. I realized he wasn’t talking to me. I was in his youth group, he already knew how old I was. Classic case of the “answering a question that wasn’t directed at you” awkward moment. I’ve likely done this a million times since. Maybe that is why I prefer not to speak.

The progression of the path of awkward moments in my life has been steady. It never really stops and I think that introverted souls feel it more deeply. We already take risks to speak, interact, go out in public and make eye contact – it takes one awkward moment to put us back 10 years.

Here are some common awkward moments I’ve identified. I’m sharing them in hopes that there are others like me. That I am not living this life alone, that maybe awkward is actually normal. Maybe the normal people can write with confusion about their perfect encounters and wish they were like us. Or maybe not.


You’re not really waving at me.  This moment is when you happily realize that someone is waving at you from across the room. You sit up straight and smile, and wave back. But no. You realize with horror that the person behind you was the real recipient of the wave. You then pretend that you are actually waving at another person to release you from the shame of the “Wow, someone is happy to see me wave, oh wait no they are not,” moment. I’ve trained myself to no longer be a wave responder. I’ve been burned too many times. Hands at my side. All the time.

I guess I shouldn’t have hugged you.  I actually like to hug people. I’m not an over-hugger, but if you throw your arms open around me, I’ll come your way. Sometimes I forget others don’t always feel the same. It’s often hard to gauge the receptivity of a hug and I’m often a poor judge of this trait.  Here’s a tip – If all of a sudden you feel like you are hugging a telephone pole – it means you have done the awkward hug. You have hugged a non-hugger and they really don’t want to hug you back. They want you to let go.  I can still remember my worst unwanted hug moment. It still haunts me.

Does anyone hear me?  I would say I am a pretty soft-spoken person with the voice of a high-pitched chipmunk. People are always calling my house and asking to talk to my mom. I always proclaim, “I AM THE MOM” but they don’t believe me. In life, conversations with loud people happen. Sometimes a quiet person tries to enter in. Usually it turns into the awkward moment of realizing you are just talking to yourself. In your high little voice. You can’t break the sound barrier of loud confident voices. It’s too strong chipmunk, too strong.

That’s not really my name.  How long do you let a person call your Sherry before you correct them? 5 times, 10 times? When is it time to get a name change to save face? How do you tell someone who’s been calling you the wrong name for 2 years what your name really is? I have many identities. I’ll pretty much answer to Sherry, Kelly, Sally, Susan. I’m not picky.

This is the men’s bathroom?  The struggle is real. Maybe if you could get better signage and more clearly defined hallways I wouldn’t wander where I shouldn’t. And if your bathrooms weren’t so close to the main dining area, no one would have heard me scream or seen me crawl back to my table. And don’t try to be clever when you label your doors. MEN. WOMEN. That’s all we need people. There’s a time for creativity and there is a time to ensure that I never get confused with public bathroom signage.

Oh, so you don’t remember meeting me.  Oh that’s ok. It was only once, and it was really dark and I was in disguise. I wasn’t really that excited to see you, I was just pretending we knew each other. Ya, you do respond to my tweets but you have like 200,000 followers so it’s perfectly understandable that shellydcalcagno really doesn’t ring a bell. I’ll see you around. Ok. Bye.

It sounded funny in my head.  Oh, I finally have something to contribute. I share with much gusto. Silence. Pins dropping. Conversation halted. Sorry people, I’m no Jimmy Fallon. But I try. The voices inside my brain think I am hilarious, that’s what really matters to me.

Stop following me around the parking lot.  Some people forget where they park. Parking lots are big, and many cars are  the same colour. And not all of us are math geniuses and have our licence plates memorized. I never asked you to follow me around for my spot. I’m not playing games with you, I genuinely have no idea where my car is. No, I won’t get into your car so you can help me look, that seems creepy. Please leave me alone. I’m a free spirit who likes to wander the pavement beat.

Let’s dance.  Our paths are headed towards a collision in the hallway. You go left. I’ll go left. You go right. I’ll go right. Let’s dance around for a minute then awkwardly part. It’s like a grade 8 dance in the gym, my palms are even sweaty and I’m blushing.

Oh, this isn’t my car.   I’m glad all of you know what car to get into after a long day at work. I’m also glad that I could entertain you as I clearly desire a new career as a car thief as I get into the wrong vehicle and try to start it. I love doing that in front of work colleagues, who stare at me in confusion as I then get out and walk across the lot to my actual car. I’m just testing them out people. It’s ok. Yes, I’m doing the “parking lot of shame” walk.  I know it well.

To all the pulled together, smooth, suave people out there who never trip on the edge of a carpet or miss the last step in a stairwell, the rest of us are trying to get through each day with our self-esteem intact.

We have hope.

We are resilient, we can handle embarrassment and we have “getting over it” as a life skill.

We can turn awkward into what hipster did for nerdy glasses.

Join the awkward movement.

The awkward is real.

Sealed with a “mis-aimed italian family cheek kiss.”