By Julia Fanger
Somewhere after the age of “tight” and before the time of “swag,” a new, unexpected term cropped up in high schools across the nation. Suddenly, it became common to see teenagers roaming the streets with thick-framed glasses and wooly sweaters typically worn by those of an older generation. Much older.
The “awkward” era had begun. The word began cropping up in conversations everywhere, whenever a long pause crept into an otherwise normal conversation, maybe when someone said something unexpected, and eventually into completely un-awkward situations.
New slang terms entered conversations, and now along with the classic exclamation of “awkward!!” people began saying even more ridiculous phrases, along the lines of “awk” and “awkward turtle.” This marked the beginning of a cultural revolution, one that originated from a social ineptitude previously shunned by anyone wishing to avoid being a wallflower of society.
This culture expanded even more rapidly with the advent of websites and television shows devoted purely to the uncomfortable encounters experienced throughout the day. Shows and sites such as “Awkward” and My Life is Awkward only glorify the moments that any normal person would want to keep to themselves.
Although this fad may have originally started out of jest or because people truly felt out of place in their surroundings, it has now degraded the meaning of the word and the lives of those who fight the ever-present battle of acceptance.
Granted, adolescence is an embarrassing time for everyone- days are spent avoiding anything with the slight possibility of attracting unwanted attention. However, pointing out these embarrassing moments only works to magnify their significance.
In all honesty, 99% of the events that are daily classified as “awkward” simply aren’t. This constant mislabeling of entirely average moments makes people feel as though they are blundering through every day, when in reality they are just experiencing life and all of its off-kilter, maybe even undesirable, situations.
Oftentimes people mutter the word under their breath when they are in a position where vulnerable emotions might otherwise be present, to, in a sense, nullify their significance. Although it may be only natural to want to avoid the susceptibility of opening oneself up to another person, pretending that fears and uncertainties do not exist in a social context will not make them simply disappear.
Everyday kids label various moments and themselves as “awkward,” only guaranteeing that others will view them in that same light, yet as common as it may be to hear the ever-present exclamation of “oh, well this is awkward!” it is just as commonplace to hear complaints of how awful it is to be such an “awkward” person.
Clearly, there is only one remedy to this nonsense that has gone on for so long that even acknowledging it in an article will surely make all who read it feel uncomfortable, if not flat-out awkward. Stop it.
Embrace every moment as it comes, even if it is a little stranger or more unusual than the rest. The awkwardness will not stop, but maybe if everyone makes a conscious effort to accept it the world can agree that the time has come for the dawn of a new era.
This misuse of the word only widens the gap between the socially adept, who now claim that almost every second of every day is painfully off-beat, and their socially-challenged counterparts, who now feel even more different, blundering, and uncomfortable than ever.
Not only does it lessen the significance of other people, but it also lowers the significance of the moment and the vulnerable emotions that would be present if people hadn’t decide to negate the influence of the uncomfortable situation with the word “awkward.”