As 2012 dawns new, now with less than 12 months left to hear about that stupid Mayan calandar thing, I made a new resolution. Last year’s was a real hum dinger; admit you are a woman already. I managed to keep it and if I had only tacked on, “and gain 30 pounds of lard”, the year would have been a blowout success. This year I decided to keep it a little lighter. “Embrace the Awkward”.
Sure, generally speaking, thoughts of ‘awkward’ bring feeling of painful inner discomfort, embarrassment, and a fervent wish to escape to a situation a little less worrisome. For those of us going through transition, this kind of thing happens all the time, especially when presenting yourself to people for the first time. Just last week I picked up my son at daycare for the first time after coming out to them. Usually there are about 2 teachers left in the building at that time, but on this day there were about 15, most of whom were clustered around the front entrance and had never been told by their mothers that it is impolite to stare. “He looks … nice”, said one to my wife, who I brought along for moral support. Awkward. On the way out my son shouted at the top of his lungs, “Look! My dad looks like a girl!”, repeatedly. More awkward.
A few days later we had a small soiree at the house to introduce some old friends from out of town to Michelle. For the most part it was a lovely time, except for my interactions with Dan, an old friend of 20 years. Dan defines awkward splendidly. He once cleared an entire family filled room at the Original House of Pancakes through detailed descriptions of his favorite scenes from Japanese torture porn in a classic Irish whisper. This time, however, it was simply having him call me ‘buddy’, ‘pal’, ‘brother’, ‘dude’, ‘man’, and of course ‘Mike’ all evening. It got tiresome correcting him in front of everyone. Twice he punched me in the arm as I walked by, again in front of everyone. All awkward.
I could go on and on with examples and I’m sure you can all relate. I was watching my favorite episode of ‘The Office’ the other day – ‘The Dinner Party’. From the video camera left up by accident in the bedroom to accusations of past dalliances, there wasn’t a scene in the episode that was not painful to watch. It occurred to me that this is what made it so funny. Cringe-worthy, but delightful. It got me thinking. Awkward is hilarious when it happens to someone else. Would it be such a stretch to find it funny when it happens to me? Just a small tweak in perception and situation that make me want to vomit could potentially be a real hoot. That sounds much better than the alternative. Embrace the awkward.
Transition is difficult at its best, but if I can take one aspect of it and make it less onerous, or maybe even fun, how great would that be?