I have been reflecting a lot on this series, which accounts for why it took some time for me to end it. As I wrote each entry of this blog series on awkwardness, I was forced to face my own circumstances and be really frank in confronting my own problem with it.
I know that my ramblings may not have answered your own personal concerns on this topic— I am not an expert on this matter, nor will I ever claim to be. But what I offer is my honest opinion, based on my own personal mistakes from past and present— some resolved, some struggling, and probably some irreparably and regrettably gone.
And this is what I conclude:
Awkwardness is like a bad joke that you realized too late.
I guess this statement revolves around a lot of personal encounters: from my teenage crush who made a really bad joke and led me to wonder what kind of girl she really is for years to come, to the well-intended-but-horribly-went-wrong pranks I made to some friends, to people who were offended by my signature sarcasm and pointed jokes, to people who offended me with their innocent-but-kinda-hurtful quips.
Should I confront the crush on her bad joke, and be branded as green-minded or a pervert for what she may think as harmless?
Should I apologize to people who were offended by a joke which was actually okay to other people?
Am I being too sensitive when I demand an apology from other for a joke that somehow offends me, yet is quite acceptable for others?
Should I care about how people perceive me or others? Or should I just brush everything off without a concern, pressing on with my own ideologies and goals, confident and firm and simply unshakeable?
[Yes, these apply outside humor/jokes/pranks/sarcasm.]
As I struggle with these, I find myself both intentionally and unintentionally pushing people away — as well as feel being pushed away. But that’s just it: The thing with awkwardness is that it’s like the proverbial chicken-and-egg conundrum: are we pushing people away because they pushed us away first, or are they pushing us away because we push them away?
It’s a bit problematic, really. It’s easy to expect that people would naturally push back when they are pushed. But will people react in the same manner when we pull them towards us? Will they want to be closer at all?
Yet I realize that as far as physics and relationships go, the basic scientific law applies: resistance exists whether we push or pull. Some people who are pushed away have some desire to be pulled closer, and some people whom we try to pull closer simply find it suffocating.
I believe it is this conflict of desires which somehow creates the sense of awkwardness. But the conflict itself is not what makes it awkward. Rather, it is a logical stalemate which builds this emotional dilemma of awkwardness. And how so? Simple: if one would approach a seemingly awkward situation without any thought, the outcome would be obvious— the aggressive fool would boldly confront the other, perhaps even initiate an argument, then just walk away with either satisfaction or more annoyed… but definitely not awkward. S/he would probably be sure in what to say to his/her friends without being confused.
But not for those burdened with too much analysis. Should I say this? Would it make the situation better or worse? What if s/he takes it the wrong way, what if s/he misunderstood? Is this the right time? Should I wait for a better opportunity? What if I’m just being paranoid, thinking too much about this— when s/he probably isn’t bothered at all or has another problem which is why s/he is behaving in such a way or I’m just misjudging his/her words and actions?
That said, the real culprit of awkwardness is overthinking. This does not necessarily equate to worry, though it can be a precursor to it. But like most effective criminals — they don’t work alone at all. In fact, overthinking leads to being trapped between two or more contradictory emotions: guilt and pride, love and hate, belongingness and solitude, joy and grief, forgiveness and anger, contentment and desire. These inner struggle of the heart, coupled with the psychological strain of a dilemma, brings about the complexity of a simple situation called awkwardness.
[Again, this is just my thoughts.]
You, the reader, may ask: why go through this arduous reasoning just to arrive at a very obvious observation that everyone is probably already aware of anyway? Simple. Because that is in itself the path that leads towards its resolution. Like a length of wire or string that got entangled, just having patience will not help you untangle everything— one needs keen understanding of what caused each knot and where each wire/string should go or go back.
Or you can just snip away the knots and tangles, and end up with shorter strings or wires instead. The point is, finding the roots of your own awkwardness can help you see clearly why it existed — thus, making it easier not only to deal with it in the present, but also to effectively prevent, avoid or minimize it in the future.
[Now, if only I can think of how not to end this series awkwardly…]
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To everyone who bothered to read (and hopefully reflect) on this series, thank you! Would be nice to hear some feedbacks— whether good, bad or just plain awkward are just fine. Have a fine weekend!