Glorious Awkwardness: Freaks and Geeks

As a human being on Planet Earth I’ve experienced my fair share of awkwardness. (Maybe more than most). I have learned to love these moments for in discomfort, valuable epiphanies are often found. Also, in retrospect, they generate great laughter. Ah, the Glorious Awkwardness!

Reflect on a particular moment in your past when you felt most in touch with your “Glorious Awkwardness.” It could be a cringe-worthy moment you’ve replayed a thousand times in your mind. Or something essential about who you are, something unchangeable. Go back there.

What did you learn from it? Can you laugh about it? And if not, why?

I don’t know why I remember this moment so much, perhaps it’s because of my horrible stage fright as a child, but in the sixth grade I had to write a speech and then perform it for my English class. The prompt was stupid and trite–about why you hate cafeteria food–and I had to persuade the audience. The teacher told us in advance she planned to videotape it so we could see what we looked like to others. She then played the videos fo the performances for the entire class. As a teacher, I would never do this to my students for all the obvious reasons. I stood behind the podium she let us use, placed my speech I couldn’t be proud of upon it, and read, trying to remember to look up, but it felt a little like looking up when if you did you would be shot in the head. I couldn’t force myself to look at the teacher or the students, though I felt the weight of their eyes on me. It was something like an out of body experience. I had no sense of verbal tics or what I was doing with my body and hands. I was only conscious of how unpleasant my voice speaking sounded in my own ears, how monotonous, how dull, how uninteresting. Then came the moment of reckoning, when we got to watch the videos. I swayed as if I was a human pendulum. At one point, I swayed so deeply that I lost my balance. Neither teacher nor student audience paid much attention to the live show, so that when they watched the video it was entertaining in a belly laugh kind of way. The story spread throughout my grade level and people would point and laugh in the hallway, having heard about the girl who lost her balance giving a speech at the front of a classroom. I can laugh about it now, but something deep inside hurts when I think of it.

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