Try as we must, we, as people, tend to teeter on the edge of awkwardness (and by teeter, I totally mean fall head first into the abyss of social ineptitude.)
It doesn’t matter how hard we try, how long we prepare the same unnecessary speech in front of the dirty bathroom mirror or how perfectly we master the pretending-to-text-to-avoid-you face. We’ll still do something so incredibly stupid, we’ll spend the rest of the week cringing at the memory of it as we stare into our empty glasses of Pinot.
In the grand scheme of things, is it really a big deal? No. (YES.) But, knowing the truth doesn’t really help anyone in the moment. It doesn’t save us from the embarrassment of calling that cute barista "babe," and it doesn’t make us feel better after having dropped a latte on the floor as that same poor barista rolls his eyes and grabs a mop.
We live in a world of silly mistakes and stupid encounters, when our tongues stop moving and our brains stop working and our legs can’t seem to remember how solid ground feels.
But, all of these embarrassing situations give us something over which to bond. They give us funny memories, pain-in-the-stomach laughter and plenty of reasons to finish off that bottle of wine. These awkward social encounters are definitely ones to which we can all relate:
1. Bar-top bawling
So, it happens. Maybe that fourth beer really wasn’t a good idea because now, you're sitting at the table in the corner of the bar alone, your friends are nowhere to be found and you just want to cry. And not just quiet tears, oh no, you want people to know, and you’ll be damned if they don’t. The bartender calls everyone a cab home, right?
2. Meeting the parents
This doesn’t just pertain to a significant other's parents because all parents are scary. It doesn’t matter if they’re the nicest people in the world — there’s still a level of awkwardness when meeting them. I mean, what do you call them? Mr. and Mrs. What's-Your-Face?
Do you take your shoes off at the door? Do you shower them with compliments? Your daughter has the perfect work ethic. I still don’t know how to talk to parents I’ve known for years. I don’t think we ever really learn.
3. Did I just send that to my mother?
Don’t you just hate it when you’re texting a cute guy you met at the bar, but you send the reply to your mother instead? And, by text, I totally mean sext, because it’s 2 am and that hot guy put his number in your phone and how can you not be texting him on the cab ride home?
Only, oops, that contact name wasn’t Matt, it was Mom. The morning phone call is never as funny as you think it is the night before. Never.
4. After the one-night stand
As if one-night stands weren’t awkward enough, leaving said one-night stand’s house is another debacle entirely. Not only are you wearing last night’s dress (and last night’s heels), but now, you have to worry about the neighbor who totally heard you all night. Those knowing eyes and that stupid little smirk turn your cheeks a shade of pink brighter than you ever thought possible.
5. Everything about elevators
Think about it; have you ever stood in an elevator in comfortable silence? It seems there’s no way to avoid the permeating awkwardness that fills that small little cube of space.
All of a sudden, you can’t talk (not that you want to), and you’re trying to hide yourself away in the back corner while the other person riding with you does the same. You don’t make eye contact; you don’t make verbal contact. You stand with your head down, waiting for your floor and then, you practically run out the door.
It shouldn’t be awkward, but there’s nothing on a daily basis I think we dread more.
6. I’m sorry, who are you?
Is there anything more embarrassing than asking someone from one of your classes for the homework, only to have him or her ask who you are?
Talk about harsh, I mean, how do you even recover? You pretend it never happened, that’s what you do. Oh, I’m sorry, wrong person! Click send, done. Transfer out of the class. Drop out of school. The end.
7. Temperamental lipstick
It’s such an easy fix, such a simple mistake and yet, it always happens. Especially to me.
I’ll leave the apartment with lipstick on point, and by the time I check my reflection in the mirror, I’m wearing that beautiful shade of red all over my teeth. Or worse, all that’s left on my once perfectly colored lips is my liner. (Insert clown joke here.)
8. Wearing dinner instead of eating it
Why do people still go out to dinner on dates? We’re just asking for it now. No food seems to be safe. Salad? Expect salad dressing on your cheeks and lettuce in your teeth. Spaghetti? Remember those pictures of babies eating pasta for the first time, tomato sauce coving their entire faces? Yep, exactly. There’s no escaping it.
This is the quintessential awkward social situation, and being a third wheel is inevitable in this world.
We’ve heard it all before; your friend really likes this guy, but really doesn’t want to head to the bar alone. And, you can’t really blame her, seeing as they just met last night. But, an hour in and it’s clear they’ve hit it off. Now all you want to do is hit your head against the table. Another drink, please. You’re never the third wheel with your friends and gin and tonic.
10. Instagram and instant regret
This applies to any social media outlet. Cyber stalking is as engrained into our daily routines as brushing our teeth. We all do it, but we don’t want anyone to know we do it — especially not the person we’re stalking.
But, when you accidently hit the "like" button, there’s no denying it. You just have to accept it and avoid said person for, well, ever.
11. Oops, where’s my wallet?
The number of times this has happened to me is disgusting. You’d think I’d get my life in order by now, but I still leave my room without checking for my wallet first. Next thing I know, I’m at Chipotle ordering my burrito and paying in compliments.
I have money, I swear. Just let me run back to grab my purse and my dignity.
12. Do you accept quarters?
What’s worse than pulling out a wallet full of quarters, dimes and — dear lord — pennies? I’m not quite sure. All that jingling and coin rolling is sure to embarrass anyone.
The only thing that could possibly be worse? Being the friend of the person paying in change. I swear I’d never make you count out $4.45 in nickels, honest.
This list is definitely cringe-worthy, and even if you haven’t experienced all of these examples, you can probably feel the embarrassment in your bones. I know I can.
But, at the end of the day, we’ve probably spent too much time overthinking these situations in the first place.
Okay, so we might have face planted on the sidewalk outside our class building, but did anyone else really notice? I mean, yeah they totally did, but everyone needs a little comic relief every once in a while.
Our awkwardness is healthy; it’s beneficial to the community. It would be a complete disservice on our part if we were to not be a little awkward every once in a while. Embrace that awkwardness, work that word vomit, cry in public to your heart's content. It just makes us human.