Guest Blogger, Sam Codington
Would it be awkward to walk up to a person and say to them, “You are beautiful!”? Probably! But of course, it would depend who the person is and how close you are with them. The awkwardness of saying that
to a person would be shaped and determined by our social norms.
In a sermon a few weeks ago, I heard a preacher invite everyone in the congregation to tell each of the people around them, “You are beautiful!” Awkward right? Kind of. Was it funny? For a lot of people. Was it true? Absolutely! Though it is for another blog post to explain why this is true. But for now I think it would be worth while to entertain a different question, “To what extent should we conform to our social norms?” If something is awkward, should we avoid doing it at all costs?
What if it were the case that as some of our social norms have developed over time and as we have conformed to these social norms, we have moved further away from what is good and true? What if sometimes doing
the truth feels a bit awkward because it doesn’t conform to our social norms and even subverts them? What then?
I grew up in South Carolina, and then I moved to California. It wasn’t just a geographical change; it was a cultural change. And many of the social norms I took for granted in the South were foreign to Californian culture. Now that I have moved back to South Carolina, I am beginning to notice more vividly the many Southern social norms that dictate proper behavior and whether or not something is deemed awkward. Because social norms vary from place to place, discerning what is good and true and not simply cultural can be pretty complicated.
Walking up to a stranger and telling them that they are beautiful is probably awkward for most people in most cultures. However, how can we tell the difference between awkwardness that is just because we are doing something silly or from a different culture and awkwardness that is because our own social norms have drifted from what is good and true? This assumes of course that some of what is good and true transcends cultures. If some good things do transcend culture, how can we know what they are? And how can we know that our feeling of social awkwardness is because we are conforming to what is good and true rather than our social norms?
There’s that awkward moment when you’re with a group of friends and…something funny happens that inspires someone to quote a supposedly pertinent and funny line from a movie. No laughter…all faces draw a blank. Like the other friends, you haven’t seen the movie either, so you aren’t sure whether to laugh, pretend nothing was said, or be that inquisitive friend who asks for an explanation.
My childhood friends are the kinds of people who can watch a movie or YouTube video once and be able to quote from it precisely. Their ability to quote, without my having a clue about the meaning or source, has always unnerved me.
Lately, while working on class assignments, I have been watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. Because of how often I watch it, I encounter many situations that trigger quotes from the show that I feel would perfectly describe what just happened. The problem is that, if those around me haven’t seen the show, they won’t get it.
New Girl is a show that my roommate and I used to watch together. Thus, when we exchanged quotes from it, we understood the allusions and enjoyed times of hearty laughter. She has gone to Germany for the rest of the semester, so now, when something happens and I think of a pertinent quote, it is disappointing not to have her here to share the moment.
Here are several rules I’ve created for myself for quoting on target:
· Before quoting or referring to something, make sure others are aware of or can easily understand the source and setting.
· Don’t quote without a friend around who knows what you are talking about and can back you up so you aren’t laughing alone.
· Or just completely abstain from quoting anything and avoid any awkward situations from happening.
Do you have comments, additions, or similar situations to report?
One time at work I was talking to a customer whom I thought was about my age or possibly a couple of years older. When I finally asked her where she went to school, she said she was in 10th grade at Laurens High School. I couldn’t believe it! She was 4 years younger than I was. Whoa!
On Facebook you can see pictures of college students and middle- and high- school students, and they’re all wearing the same things and posing in similar ways. Am I getting be an “old fogey” or is this a good thing? It can certainly make for some awkward moments.
Thinking back and comparing how I acted and dressed at the age of the generation younger than mine, I am baffled by how much our society has changed. At 14, I was still not sure of “my style” and was just getting into the stage of thinking boys were cute, while, now, 14-year-old girls have already “crushed on a few guys,” possibly “dated” several, and dress more “maturely.” Furthermore, while you expect girls to act more maturely because of their “mature” appearance, you can feel quite frustrated when they don’t.
Okay, so maybe I am “old fogey.” I do feel kids need to stay kids until they actually become adults. They don’t know what they are missing when they try to dress as though they are much older. Allowing yourself to stay young and act your age can release you from unnecessary hassles and stressful drama. Rushing “adult problems” is not “cool” at all. I would gladly rush back to the days when the most difficult challenges I faced were figuring out how to discreetly hide food on my plate that I did not want to eat and to choose the “best” crayons to color a butterfly.
Seeing how the younger generations are trying to look older makes me wonder what the generations following theirs are going to look like. It’s already totesawk thinking I’m talking to people older than I am when they are really so young.
Ever run into someone you thought looked older than they actually were? What was your reaction?
I've slept on different types of beds before, but none that looked like this! I would be scared to fall through the cracks, or wake up tangled up in it. Definitely awkward.
I understand trying everything to get your baby to sleep, but really? If I was the baby I'd be crying because of those hands. That is just not normal! Totesawk!
I don't know about y'all, but I would ride this horse bike every day to class. It is that kind of awkward that is just perfect!
The Isophone is an underwater telephone design. You have the luxury of being able to talk on the phone, while those around you are splashing and swimming. Yeah...I think I'll stick to talking on my iPhone when I'm done swimming...awkward.
Pierced eyeglasses are glasses that are made to attach to a piercing at the bridge of your nose. This doesn't seem convenient, just painful. High-five to the person that
All of us at the retail store where I work have made it a game to scare each other whenever we have the opportunity. One of my co-workers, Corey, is able to scare people all the time. The other day he scared our manager out of her wits; she screamed frightfully and almost fell down.
In an attempt to scare people when they are least expecting it, I have tried numerous tactic, such as hiding and waiting, then suddenly reacting to something; making unusual noises; and sneaking up behind people and tickling them with a feather. Most of these attempts have concluded by my getting scared instead. Totesawk, I know. I get so caught up in my plan that I tend not to notice what everyone else is doing, therefore giving them the advantage to scare me.
David is another story, however. He works in the back and is the only person we haven’t been able to scare. Sometimes it can get super awkward. We will be trying to creep up slowly without making any sudden moves, and just when we are about to scare him, he starts talking to us. He is always able to tell when we are near him, regardless of what he is doing. He, on the other hand, is excellent at scaring us. I was working at the register one time when suddenly he was standing beside me, asking me a question. I about jumped out of my skin! He is the quietest person I have ever met. We never know when he will strike. Help! Can anyone give me some ideas on how to scare David? I’m not giving up!
Nobody likes to be called a gossip, but the Tempter is still at work. Do you know anyone who at some point in life hasn’t come upon some juicy, tantalizing “forbidden fruit” and passed it on to a curious recipient? The embarrassing part comes when you realize that the subject of the gossip is standing behind you…totesawk!
Once my co-workers and I had a serious awkward moment at the clothing store where we work. We had been watching a particular customer and had noticed some irresponsible behavior…breaking an item in the store and leaving it on the ground instead of bringing it to us. Later, believing the customer had left, we alluded to the item and spoke with frustration about irresponsible customers. Little did we know that the customer was standing behind a table and had overheard us. She accused us of talking bad about her. The awkward thing was that we didn’t say that the item had been broken; we had merely mentioned the item. We felt bad and awkward that she had heard our conversation, but by confronting us, she was actually acknowledging her guilt.
I was the victim of another awkward moment. When much younger, I took classes for three to four years at a dance studio. Wanting to become the best dancer I could be, I was really dedicated and attentive to my teacher, to the extent that some of my classmates considered me the “teachers pet.” One day when I was assisting my teacher with a younger dance class, she asked me to get something from her office. On my way to get what she needed, I overheard a couple of girls - they had earlier given me the impression that their were my friends - making jokes and slandering me with “teacher’s pet” comments. Undaunted, I stood there listening to everything they had to say. Once they noticed me, it was they, not I, who felt awkward.
Awkward moments aren’t always funny; sometimes they can be awful or depressing. If you want to avoid being a lead spokesperson in a gossiping ring, try out these tips:
· When your emotions are getting the best of you, isolate yourself. This enables you to clear your mind of negativity, or, if you enjoy writing, gives you time to write your thoughts down instead of sharing them out loud with someone else.
o Sharing negative emotions about others to friends or peers can cause them to feel negatively towards others before they are able to meet and get to know them.
· Confront people you have problems with in a manner that shows you want to understand their perspective. Whether they choose to share their own perspective or ignore you completely is up to them. It depends on how much they value your friendship.
· Most importantly, consider what the Bible says about gossip and ask God to help you refrain from engaging in it.
o Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
o Proverbs 16:28 says, “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”
o For more verses on gossiping, check out 43 Bible verses about gossip
What are some totesawk situations that you have encountered regarding gossip?
So Thank Goodness It’s Friday, the beginning of the weekend. Gonna watch movies, hang out with friends, take really long naps, and enjoy the fact that it’s the weekend. The only problem is...do I really have the free time to do all these things, or am I just forgetting everything I have to do??
This reminds me of that moment in Harry Potter in which one of Harry's friends, Neville Longbottom,
receives a "remembrall
" from his Gran. It turns red if he has forgotten something; the only problem is...it doesn’t tell you what you have forgotten. I feel like this happens to all of us at some point. We get super stoked that it’s the weekend and completely forget about all of those college assignments that we have due the following week. We can’t remember what they are until Sunday creeps up on us, signaling the end of the weekend, and all of the assignments we buried that Friday…Uh-oh!
Here is a short list of ways to avoid that totesawk mind lapse we can have when Friday comes along:
· Write your assignments down ASAP in a place you will see them
· Set reminders on your phone so that you remember to do them before it’s too late
· Repeat it over and over until it’s stuck in your head
· and ask a friend or someone in the specific class to remind you
Try not to be in a totesawk situation like Neville and forget the things you have to do because it’s the weekend. That test you thought was in two weeks might actually be this Monday! Have a great weekend!!
For more (almost awkward) ways to remember things, check out these sites:
· 10 Ways to Remember to do Things!!
· How to Remember to Do Something Without Writing It
· How To Remember Things
Katniss, Effie, District 12, District 1
It’s that time of year again, when kids dress up as their favorite cartoon character or something scary like a zombie or clown – shivers! Now it can get awkward when you have this great costume idea that you can’t wait for people to see, but then when they do, they ask, “What are you supposed to be?”
This year my suite mates and a couple of other friends decided to dress as the representatives from each district in the Hunger Games, along with Effie Trinket, the escort of the tributes of District 12. We had great ideas for each and were super excited about them. Well, lo and behold, several of our friends either couldn’t do it or decided not to go, so we were left with District 1, District 12, Effie, and Katniss. When we were all together you could see what we were trying to do, but if we didn’t stay together, the one dressed as Effie was the only one who looked discernible as her character. Several times at our school’s Monster Mash Halloween party I was asked if I was a princess, a goddess, or an angel. I had to explain many times that I was representing District 1
, the luxury district of Panem
Key note for your next Halloween costume idea: make sure that, if you have a group costume idea, all commit to being at the party! Otherwise, you may feel totesawk and...disappointed.
Have you had any embarrassing or disappointing experiences with Halloween, either from costume confusion or just awkward situations in general?
In my early teens, I was absolutely in love with Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer from Green Day. I cut his picture out and put it in a picture binder, and I collected his posters and other memorabilia, not allowing anyone to touch them. Even my 3 bunny rabbits took on parts of his name. I was OBSESSED. The question is, why? Why was I so infatuated with someone I hardly knew? TotesAwk!
Girls, especially younger ones, often have a crush on someone famous. We like to imagine having a perfect life with someone famous we don’t know because the guys we do know generally don’t measure up to our imaginations “perfect guy” like a hot celebrity does. We can imagine our "prince" with perfect personalities, treating us as though we are perfect princesses. We fall for this imaginary creation and can even begin to believe he is real.
In reality we run a guy through a mental checklist:
1. Whether they can make us laugh,
2. Whether they are an extrovert or an introvert,
3. Whether they are a devoted Christian or not,
4. What type of music they listen to,
5. And the way they dress.
We can be very judgmental when it comes to potential dates, yet not care what a person is like when it comes to someone we probably won’t ever meet. If you ask me, that’s pretty totesawk!
Can you think of a celebrity, or anyone you don’t know personally, that you were “in love” with??
For other reasons why girls fall in love with celebrities and other related topics check out the following sites!
1. All Women Stalk
2. Celebrity Obsession: Could It Possibly Be Love Or Is It Just Pure Infatuation?
3. What makes girls think they can love a celebrity without meeting them?
Having enjoyed my fall break in Florida with my “suities” the past couple days, I thought it would be fun to do a social experiment in the category of folkways! I avoided looking people in the eyes whenever I talked to or was around people.
It was funny to see how they would try to catch my attention by attempting to get directly in front of me, staring directly into my eyes, saying my name, and touching my arm. I don’t think they could figure out why I wouldn’t look at them while talking.
After several minutes, I revealed what I was doing and asked their opinions on my behavior. I received several responses: “I thought you were socially awkward”, “I figured you were an introvert”, and “I thought something was wrong with me!”
How awkward the situation becomes when we don't follow the everyday folkways people in our culture expect! My friends expected me to look at them while they were speaking to me. When I didn't, I felt ill at ease, and so did they.
Can you think of any totesawk social experiments you can do that would break the norm of our naturally learned "instincts"? Try one out just for fun!
Creds to Becca Labo!
An opportunity arises for you to share God's love with someone despised by your circle of friends. This could get totesawk fast! What do you do?!
Jesus went in head first into totesawk situations with people at whom we might not have looked twice at because He knows how much we all need him; yes, even those around whom we feel awkward.
For example, in the first part of Luke 19
when Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in a sycamore-fig tree, He immediately called out to him and said that He wanted to eat with him in his house. This was totesawk for the crowds following Jesus because they looked down on Zacchaeus because he was a chief tax collector who had become wealthy at their expense. The people couldn't believe that Jesus would even want to associate with him. However, Jesus didn't care what title the people gave the man, or even what sins he had done. He saw only a lost man who needed forgiveness and salvation. In verse 10 Jesus says, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
How difficult it is for us to see through Jesus' eyes and not through the eyes of man. We are commanded in Matthew 28:19
to go make disciples of all nations. HELP! This includes diving head first into totesawk situations.
What are some examples of totesawk situations you've encountered when it comes to sharing about Jesus?
When we are around the same people a lot, we can easily pick up their words or habits. It doesn’t matter if we want to or not, it automatically happens if we hear the words or see the actions frequently enough.
I was riding in the car with a couple of friends when one of them started talking about something that had happened. Not knowing how to respond, I said, “Well that’s awkward,” even though it wasn’t awkward. Using the word “awkward” has become a habit. Perhaps it’s because my blog page has to do with “totesawk” situations.
One of my friends absolutely hates it when I use the word “awkward.” He gets so mad at me and has a big talk with me about the word every time I use it. Well, one night, when we were driving to Cook Out, he was talking about a weird situation that happened with his brother and out popped the word “awkward”! I couldn’t help but laugh. He didn’t think it was funny and was upset with himself for saying it. Since then, he has used the phrase at least once each time we have been together. Now that I’m finally getting out of the habit, he is slowly getting into it.
When I was younger, my best friend lived with me for our 9th grade year. My mom taught us at home, so we were around each other 24/7. We both tended to be sarcastic and joked around a lot. My friend realized that a lot of people didn’t understand that our sarcasm and jokes were not serious, so, after every joke, she started saying, “Just kidding.” Hearing her say it so much caused me to start saying it, and then we would end our own sarcastic jokes to each other with “just kidding.” How annoying! We wanted to stop saying it, but trying not to say it made us say it even more.
Are there any words or habits that you’ve picked up from a close friend that you wish you hadn’t?
Yesterday I was walking to class when a girl up ahead walking towards me started smiling and waving. I was super confused because I had never seen her before in my life, but I waved back anyways. Go figure! She wasn’t waving at me but at the group of people walking behind me. Definitely totesawk!
Living on a campus full of students moving about from class to class, I find this happens often. The benefit is that I get to meet a lot of random people. That, or I continue awkwardly on my way.
Here are some ways to avoid this awkward encounter:
- If you know the person,
o Smile and wave first
o Greet by name, approach, and ask how things are going
o And if you did these things and the person either didn’t hear you or is obviously ignoring you, then continue on your way and forget the whole thing!
· If you don’t know the person,
o Instead of waving back, smile or nod
o Wait to see if the person is going to say anything to you before responding
o Or pretend that you didn’t notice, and continue on your way!
Do you have any other ideas?