Thursday, April 25, 2013

Being Awkward, Part II

Two weeks ago, I shared with all of you a rather, well, vulnerable part of my life in Being Awkward, Part I. Had I not concluded that essay with a promise of sharing my awkward progression through life, I would have left you to believe that my awkwardness came to a sweet conclusion with the close of my childhood.

Ha. I’m sure that you wouldn’t have believed it anyway. Sometimes I still try, though. But then I remember that I spent a better part of my childhood looking like this:

Who am I trying to fool?

Now. As I did in Being Awkward, Part I, I will share with you below the mistakes I made to only further myself into what I like to call awkward doom.

On top of those mistakes, though, I want you to know that there were elements of my being that were beyond my control. To name a few: my lanky height, protruding nose, poor skin, and red hair. These detriments to my appearance embedded themselves in my psychosis, feeding my insecurities and shyness. They deemed me incapable of talking to boys and nervous when talking to girls. I found comfort mostly in reading and therefore buried my nose in a book whenever the threat of social interaction lurked in the school halls. As a child, my awkwardness mattered not. As an adolescent, my awkwardness enveloped my being.

I've warned you before and I'll warn you again: my adolescent awkwardness was not pretty.

Without further ado here it is; here comes the big, the bad, the scary wolf of my adolescence...

Being Awkward, Part II
(Disclaimer: there are not photos to support my claims in this post, as I heavily avoided the camera between ages 10 and 15. Sorry.)

Adolescent mistake #1: Not knowing how to style my hair (are you noticing a pattern with my hair here? Thanks for the ginger genes, mom and dad). It took me until high school to figure this one out. I went from a childhood of braided and unkempt hair to a preteen phase of frizzy and bushy hair. I had no idea what to do with it.

Adolescent mistake #2: Experimenting with colorful, drugstore makeup and wearing it out of the house. Nobody can rock white lip gloss and baby blue eye shadow, let alone a pale-skinned 12-year -old ginger.

Adolescent mistake #3: Not knowing when to start shaving my legs. Who does, though? When is the right time? For me, the time came when our middle school mean girl looked at my legs in gym class and said, "Eiw. Your legs are hairy." I went home crying that night and my mom bought me a razor. (Albeit was an electric razor, so I wouldn't cut myself). 

Adolescent mistake #4: Not wearing a properly fitted bra, or not wearing a bra at all. What is one supposed to do with those barely there, but there nonetheless boobs? This was a subject that I refused to breach with my mother, as any tom-boy-turned-preteen would. My sisters had already grown up and moved out of the house, so I couldn’t consult them either. I tried to figure it out on my own, and failed. I remember running a timed mile in a Victoria's Secret black tank top with a built-in bra in 7th grade. That was maybe top 5 most embarrassing moments of my life. But after that, I understood. I accepted the size of my chest and its relationship with my dwindling childhood, and opted for a bra with some wiring. And starting running in sports bras.

Adolescent mistake #5: Not having a clue about personal style.  A childhood of cropped tops, stirrup pants, and tie-dye did not lead to an adolescence of chic style. Cropped tops turned into poorly-fitting tank tops and boxy t-shirts, stirrup pants turned into bell bottoms and high-waters (I had long legs, ok?), and the tie-dye…stayed.
How did I deliver myself out of this deep doom of awkwardness? How did I emerge from a lifestyle of bad hair, horrible makeup, hairy legs, and atrocious style? To be honest, I don't really know.

Slowly but surely, though, things did get better. I started to take notice of others around me, those that were not awkward, and studied their appearance. This led me to invest in hair product, throw out the cheap makeup, and find stores that made clothes to fit my height. In addition to all of that, my mother forced me to join sports teams and made sure that I engaged in social activities outside of my comfort zone. Eventually, I shed my awkward skin.

Not completely though; some days, I still feel like that pimply, big-nosed, poorly dressed 12-year old. Instead of letting my awkwardness torture me now, however, I just accept it. I will forever be awkward, and that's ok.

Awkward is as awkward does. No matter how you dress it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Being Awkward, Part I

I was born awkward. The red hair doomed me from the start. I had a temporary lapse of cuteness from age 2 to 4, and then got awkward again—until I was about 15. I am 24 years old. That's 13 years of awkwardness, or in other words, more than HALF OF MY LIFE.

Although I can accept and sometimes embrace my awkwardness now, it tortured me for a long time. I was an awkward kid, yes, but I don't think that I was aware of it until I became an adolescent. And then it set in hard. But until then, I loved being a kid, awkward tendencies and all. Sure, my friends were more athletic than me; sure, all of my friends had their two front teeth even though I didn't; sure, most of my friends' clothes matched where mine did not, but they were my friends. We were little, we didn't notice the difference. We lived in our bubble of innocence, not knowing that there was more out there than what we were exposed to.

So, I was fine with being an awkward kid. But now, I look back at pictures of myself and wince. I was setting myself up for years of heartache by letting my red hair grow too long, not caring about matching, and being, at moments, devastatingly shy.

I made a lot of personal mistakes as a child, most of which I only came to recognize in retrospect. To name a few...
Childhood mistake #1: Making my mother let me dress myself. While my mom is all about creativity and self-expression, I can't wholly place the blame on her. As mild-tempered as I am, I am an extremely stubborn person. This became evident when I refused to stop wearing diapers at age 3. I also refused to wear clothing. I was potty trained, and didn't use the diaper, but I guess I liked the freedom that only a diaper-clad bottom and shirtless top can offer. I was quietly stubborn with my parents, and because I won the battle, the stubbornness rooted. So anyway, from that day on, I dressed myself.  As one can only get away with wearing diapers for so long, I was faced with having to choose real clothes. When that time came, I was a fan of suspenders, stirrup pants, cropped denim jackets, and tie-dye. Worn separately, or to my dismay, all together.

You can't tell in this picture, but you better believe that those are stirrup pants.
Childhood mistake #2: Not brushing my hair. This is common among children, but why? Why the aversion to a hairbrush? My hair was long, red, and often disheveled—not the best for making great impressions.

Childhood mistake #3: Picking out purple and pink speckled round glasses. I was pretty stoked about getting glasses, as they were something new to play with. But A: their large, round circumference did not flatter my face and B: the two-toned pink and purple frames did not mesh well with my freckles. Or match any of my clothing. But I think you already understand my attitude toward matching as a child.

Childhood mistake #4: Taking style cues from Anne of Green Gables. Braided pigtails are cute, but they grow old after 600 days of wear. I guess that because I had a repugnance to brushing my hair, pigtails kept it neat (though not really) and easy to deal with.

Told ya! I have a plentiful collection of childhood missteps. But, as aforementioned, I didn’t care. I was fine. Until I became an adolescent, made a ton of mistakes, and cared about them all.

My awkward childhood only served as a prelude to my devastatingly awkward adolescence. It might not seem possible to some of you, the fact that things got worse for the gap-toothed freckled be-speckled child above.

You know how they say, "things get worse before they get better"? Well, in my case things got much, much worse before they got better. Much worse. 
...which you'll hear about in Being Awkard, Part II (coming soon). I'll warn you, though, it isn't going to be pretty.