I was sitting at a table with some friends and one of them posed the question,
“How do you stop being awkward?”
My answer was pretty simple: don’t.
Why is it such a bad thing to feel awkward anyway? Just the way she phrased the question made the assumption that it’s not okay to feel awkward, as if there is some sort of shame associated with it.
Isn’t that the way we feel about all our unpleasant feelings though? When we’re depressed we just want to “get through it” and when we’re angry we tell ourselves we just need to “get over it.” What if you are depressed because a family member just died, or angry because someone treated you poorly? Those are perfectly justified reasons to make you feel that way. Are those unpleasant things not allowed to manifest themselves in unpleasant emotions? Of course not. There is no good reason that someone can tell you not to feel a certain way; it’s just part of how you process that particular life event.
What if we all just… gave ourselves permission to feel however we need to feel?
The times in my life when I’ve experienced the most personal growth are when I’ve taken a moment to inspect my own heart without judgment from anyone, especially from myself. I take a second and dig through all the messiness, inspect what made it messy in the first place, and see if there’s anything I can learn while I carefully clean it up. Putting off dealing with your emotions is like picking up your room and stuffing everything in the closet; it may look clean, but sooner or later, you’ll run out of room to hide the mess.
If this all seems like it’s way harder to put into practice than it sounds, then you’re right. It starts by simply having grace on your own heart. When those painful or unpleasant emotions come up, don’t immediately try to run away from them. When you’re sad, be sad. When you're broken, be broken. When you’re awkward, be awkward. And then after you’ve taken a moment to inspect those things without any internal or external judgment, move on.
You are not defined by your emotions, pleasant or unpleasant. You are defined however you want to be defined. And that is more than enough.
Featured photo for this post by Tyler Chase Manuel