I’ve had a week filled with awkward. It happens.
First, I went to a women’s event where I hardly knew anyone. I stood in the foyer picking at a plate of pasta while my heart almost pounded out of my chest. I attempted to make small talk. I went to the bathroom three times in forty-five minutes just to hide. I occasionally stared at my phone so it would seem like someone, somewhere might know and like me.
Now here’s the thing: Last fall I did a speaking event at this very same place. I stood on the stage and talked about being Fiercehearted with calmness and confidence. I signed books and snapped pictures with a couple hundred folks. But this casual mingling in the foyer was so much harder.
A couple of evenings later I sat around a table with a group of local writers. As we talked about books and blog posts and what it’s like to be in the world of words, I felt the same anxiety coming back. My cheeks felt hot, my shirt got sticky with sweat and the inner critic became so loud I could hardly hear anything else. I knew many of these women online before I met them in real life, and having a screen between us changed everything. I could be confident and witty. I never said “um” or laughed at the wrong time or worried about my hair.
My husband and I are hooked on the television show Nashville right now (don’t judge) and one of the main characters, Juliette Barnes, said something that keeps ringing in my ears. Her personal life is a train wreck but as she’s about to step on stage to do a concert she remarks, “It’s easy to make 20,000 people love you.”
Isn’t that what our world tells us? Post the perfect pictures on Instagram. Work the crowd. Craft an image. Create an audience instead of meaningful relationships. Avoid all the awkward.
But despite its difficulties, I’m falling in love with the awkward. It’s where we find out which one of our friends laughs so hard she snorts. It’s where the mascara runs right down our faces and we discover how lovely the ugly cry can be. It’s where we remember we are not God — and that is a very good thing. It’s where we learn to believe we’re loved for who we are and not who we sometimes wish we could be.