The advantage of being awkward

Jesse Bontrager

Contributing Writer

jesseb2@goshen.edu

I’ll begin by stating that I’m not a Funnies writer. For those interested in the root of this statement, we can break it down further: I’m not funny and I’m not a writer. But I have been called awkward and this is a claim we can really sink our teeth into. I wouldn’t say my social interactions are as bad as Ryan Seacrest trying to high-five that blind guy on season eight of American Idol, but on a scale of one to Michael Cera I’m a solid seven.

Awkward conversations are running rampant these days as first-years carry on a vicious game of meet-and-greet with Goshen’s student body. That’s not a bad

thing—it’s natural and we needn’t shy away from it. In fact, one of the many reasons that #iheartgoshen is because this college embraces and celebrates awkward people. We’re home to some of the most awkward practices since the dawn of time: Goshen Dating, Rectember, and literally every dance we’ve ever hosted on campus. Seriously—that last one got so bad that we actually hosted a 90s prom last year to pretend that our awkwardness was intentional.

Here’s where I make a strong argument for the advantage of being awkward, thanks to my Expository Writing class with the always-punctual Ann Hostetler. The fear of being perceived as weird or different keeps us from being authentic. It’s a struggle, first-year students, but come out of your dorms because there are new people to meet! I believe “YOLO” is what the street

youths are saying these days and I couldn’t agree more. It’s not easy. During my first weekend at Goshen in the fall of 2013, a voice crack during a conversation with Ellen Conrad sent me into my dorm room where I watched all five seasons of Breaking Bad before even attempting another human interaction.

Once we get past these minor insecurities, real relationships can be formed. We can do away with the surface-level chit-chat and go deeper in our conversations. You can tell me that you’re afraid Donald Trump might become the next president and I’ll tell you that I cry every single time “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran plays. My favorite people on campus are the ones who are unapologetically themselves, belting T-Swift songs on karaoke night, rocking Depot sweaters that are three sizes too big, and rollerblading through the Rott like nobody’s business. (But seriously, guys—I think that last one’s a safety hazard.) Last weekend on the KMY lawn, I observed a group of students playing a game that involved throwing an oversized yoga ball at people as they tossed a Frisbee. I’ll never understand this cruel, twisted game or why it was any fun at all, but props to its inventors for not even caring.

Life hack: Let’s be real. Don’t be Mandy Moore in The Princess Diaries. Be Anne Hathaway! Celebrate the awkward people around you! Even if you feel incredibly alone, I promise I’ll be watching from the sidelines, awkwardly cheering you on because the blind dates, lame jokes, and uncomfortable silences are what make you undeniably human.

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