The fact that I only used Harry Potter gifs above illustrates my point perfectly: Awkward was my middle name for a really long time. I have nothing against the word itself; those seven little letters that once won my grandmother a spelling bee, arguably one of the most common uses of the frequently ignored letter “k,” title of a popular MTV show. I don’t think most of us realize how often this seemingly harmless word appears in our daily lives.
That is, until we try to give it up, which I decided to do back in August.
As I looked ahead to junior year, I was recovering from a stinging blow to my self-worth that had taken up much of my sophomore year. Though I had finally begun to love myself, crowds and any type of social interaction still made me nervous. I replayed conversations constantly in my head, wishing I could have done a million things differently. There would be brief moments where I stopped and considered how small of a deal it was that I tripped in front of a cute boy, but most of the time, I lived in terror of being awkward.
This word was my incredibly overused response to just about everything. Waving to someone who doesn’t see me and wave back? Awkward. Tripping up the stairs? Awkward. Stuttering because I don’t know what to say? Awkward. Over the summer, I gradually realized that I used the word “awkward” so much that it had become part of my identity. It shaped the way I viewed myself, which in turn shaped my relationships with friends and family. In general, this word just brought me down.
So, I decided to give it up.
Spending the past two months without the word “awkward” has been nothing short of phenomenal. Losing this word is definitely an ongoing process: I still grimace when I don’t know how to end a conversation, or when someone goes for the high-five when I go for the hug. But I no longer think of myself as perpetually, unchangeably awkward, and I no longer live in fear of being so. It’s made all the difference in the way I carry myself in public, the way I interact with my friends, the way I introduce myself to new acquaintances. As I’ve abandoned awkward in exchange for better descriptors, I’ve learned that viewing yourself positively can transform everything. So ditch the negativity, and maybe even a few vocabulary words. Building yourself up is infinitely better than tearing yourself down.