An Ode To Quirks
I am incredibly awkward. Not just kinda awkward. Or awkward in certain situations. I just breathe awkwardness. I live awkwardness.
I’m just very awkward. Even in trying to explain to you all that I’m awkward, I’m being awkward.
Now, some of this awkwardness is justified. My past experiences, both traumatic and just funny times, have warranted some of my awkwardness. But a lot of it is just who I am. I was born with it, I guess. For the longest time, I was so self conscious about my awkwardness. I would try to cover it up, to pretend that I wasn’t, to get myself out of awkward situations, and in doing so I always became even more awkward. It was a terrible, vicious cycle.
I started to think about how in the world my awkwardness could be a good thing. Because, you know, what would this blog be without looking at the positive aspects of everything?
At first, I just thought about all my embarrassing moments and all the times I’ve made my friends feel super uncomfortable just by simply being myself.
But then once I got past that line of thinking, I actually brainstormed quite a few ways my awkwardness has been a good thing.
My best best best best best friend at Duke is a guy named Connor Tinen (who, as a matter of fact, has his own blog which can be found here: ____). Ironically, I met Connor solely because I was being incredibly awkward. I walked into a common room, and I noticed Connor standing next to his girlfriend. His girlfriend had told me lots of wonderful things about Connor, but I had never met him. So I yelled across the room, “Hey! I hear you’re super awesome, and we should become friends!” The entire room got quiet, everyone looked down and then started nervously laughing, clearly noticing how awkward I was being. A few people shook their heads, “Oh, Hope…” Some muttered, “That’s just how she is….” And others patted my back, thinking I needed to be consoled for being so socially inept. But Connor went along with it. He appreciated my awkwardness. And to this day he is probably the greatest friend I have ever, ever had. He’s there for me at 3am when my world is in shambles, he’s there to take me to Panera when “all I need to make this day better is a Fuji Apple Chicken Salad”. He’s there to hug me until I feel human again, to talk me through a traumatic experience, to study beside me when I feel too extroverted to be alone, to take me to random restaurants every week, and in countless other ways. If I hadn’t been excruciatingly awkward that day in the common room, I never would have made the greatest friend anyone could ever ask for.
I think back to high school to my best friend from my club field hockey team, Carrie. And to my sidekick (because how else would I describe the guy I met the first day at Duke who has since been such an amazing friend to me) David. I never would have become friends with either of them had I not awkwardly introduced myself to them at the most inopportune times.
My awkwardness has helped me get guys (lol…. That was a joke. I wish.) Wait, but actually I’m pretty sure my first boyfriend’s pickup line to me was something along the lines of you, “You are so awkward that it’s almost cute.” The key word there is almost.
Being awkward led me to have the most awkward passion ever: to write about my life and display it for the world to see. (But such an activity shouldn’t inherently be awkward because vulnerability is the best, but that’s a discussion for another time.)
Actually, figuring out that I love to write in general came about from being awkward. I was always too awkward to be popular in middle school, so while people would be hanging out at recess I’d be sitting in the classroom writing what I told my teachers was my “first novel” (78 pages of pure brilliance, lemme tell you.)
My idea to write a blog about vulnerability came from the fact that I awkwardly ask people very deep, probing questions. These questions can make people feel uncomfortable, and albeit somewhat awkward. But the people who can handle them remember me. And so in some way or another, I’m different. I’m memorable. I’m unique. Or something like that.
My awkwardness is one of my many quirks. It has gotten me in a fair number of rough situations, from saying exactly what I shouldn’t have said, to fidgeting around and stuttering, to embarrassing myself in large groups of people. As a matter of fact, it’s a pain to be awkward and also love people, because that almost always ends in a horribly awkward encounter. I get so excited to see people, and then I make a fool out of myself.
But now that I see how much being awkward has truly brought to my life, I want to start embracing it. Yeah, I’m awkward, but so be it! Yeah, I find myself in situations that are not enjoyable, to say the least. But they lead to some pretty beautiful moments and to some pretty amazing friendships and passions.
And so in thinking about all of this, I have come to some conclusions. We have to embrace our quirks because if we don’t we’ll just become more and more insecure. If we don’t embrace the “different” things that make us unique, we’ll never reap the positive benefits of our quirks.
In fact, our quirks should be celebrated. They shouldn’t be called quirks at all. They are just special personality traits that lead us to unique moments and to unique people. I’m tired of people’s qualities being weird, or unlovable, or confusing. They’re none of these things; they’re just different. Why does being awkward have to be any different than being extroverted? Or quiet? Or athletic? They’re just traits; they’re just silly ways of putting people in nice one-word boxes that don’t do anyone justice.
So…. Yeah. I’m awkward. But I’m embracing it. What are your quirks? I’d love to celebrate them with you.