how awkward is it OK for one awkward-looking girl to be?

Note: I’m on Ignite Social Media’s list of “100 Women Bloggers You Should Be Reading“! Lots of thanks and offers of cake to Olivia Hayes, who put  me there!


Occasionally I am awkward the way someone is awkward in a slapstick movie.  When I’m flustered or nervous or just really not paying attention, I have been known to drop things. And then drop other things. I mix words up in interesting ways. I can’t count on myself not to.

In the train station the other day, I was running late, but I was really thirsty, so I grabbed a bottle of water at a convenience stand and attempted to pay for it. First I dropped my purse. Then all of the cards (credit, license, metro, Zip car, Borders gift with $3 on it that has been there forever for no reason) fell out of my wallet. I crouched down to collect everything, my scarf slipping off onto the floor. Then, when I managed to pay, finally, the water started rolling down the counter. The cashier grabbed it, laughing.


“Good luck!” she called after me.

“I’ll need it!” I called back.

Sometimes I think I look about that awkward, too. As though I might at any moment be caught by surprise by the strangeness of my own face in an unexpected reflective surface. My body might do something crazy– like bulge in a place I hadn’t thought it should bulge, or slouch in a part that I’d thought wasn’t slouchy. In the East Village the other evening, I walked by a long, dark window, and actually had to put my hand on my stomach, to see if it was really my stomach sticking out that far, or if it was just my shirt. Because it had to just be my shirt.


It wasn’t.

Sometimes I think I can’t afford to be awkward, if it turns out that I might look awkward, because that’s just too much awkwardness for one person.

If I act totally confident and hilariously funny and fabulously in control of everything, then there’s a chance my body will appear totally confident and fascinatingly unique.


Because, I imagine, people who drop things a lot are only adorable when they’re brilliant men with tousled hair and glasses or fresh-faced, lovely young women whose eyes widen sweetly in surprise at their own clumsiness. Can you drop things adorably with a big, complicated nose? Probably not.

But then sometimes I get the sense that there’s a chance I’m carving out a new definition of cute. Because my awkwardness sort of suits me. I think it’s funny. It makes me laugh. It’s striking, in its way. After all, it’s not often someone can manage to drop nearly everything they’re carrying, in sequence, while reaching for a single item. That’s special. And it’s probably not going to get better.

And as for the way I look, I’m clearly a mystery to myself. Which, when you look at it more kindly, is pretty fun.

Yesterday I saw a cousin I hadn’t seen in maybe a year and she told me she’d noticed me on the street a while back, in midtown. But she hadn’t known I’d cut my hair, so she wasn’t sure until I was gone that it was definitely me. She said, “This totally confident girl with a little outfit and these cowboy boots and really short hair went by. She looked like she owned the world. And I was like, wait…is that my cousin?”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. Because I wrote about that day. Here it is.

Because you never know when I might own the world for a day. It happens sometimes.

As long as I’m not carrying things and going up a flight of stairs. Then I might be in trouble.

(source. The pictures, btw, were all of things I can’t handle)

*  *  *

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in lots of autumnal layers. Yay, cool weather!!



Kate on September 19th 2011 in beauty, being different, body, nose

27 Responses to “how awkward is it OK for one awkward-looking girl to be?”

  1. Kimmy Sue Ruby Lou responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    it’s awkward to me how much we worry about our appearance…or how others view us…and how much a woman is more likely to endure these thoughts. we’re not supposed to be “self” centered and yet every activity of a spiritual nature asks us to find “our” center…so, we’re all actually self-centered by nature…but what you find in the center is rarely a reflection of what’s on the outside…if so, my center has a very large ass…okay, that doesn’t make any sense :) what a fun post!

  2. Krystina responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    I do drop stuff, fall and do stupid things all the time. I always laugh out loud at myself. How can I not? It’s hilarious. Last night in Krogers I dropped my pot pie and managed to kick it before I could pick it up. I was cracking up…

  3. Sooz responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    I love how you write about all this stuff. It always makes me feel better about me (because I am a total and complete klutz). And the world (b/c it’s nice to know that there are other awkward people out there). :)

  4. anna banana responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    this is totally me. glad to know that i, too, am clumsily cute(:

  5. Paula responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    “After all, it’s not often someone can manage to drop nearly everything they’re carrying, in sequence, while reaching for a single item. That’s special.”

    I loved that line it made me laugh! You own your awkwardness and that is awesome and inspiring to me, Thank you!

  6. Laurie S. responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Ooo. This one hits home.

    A dainty-eater-girl I am not! And, I feel really awkward about it sometimes.

    There was this one time that I lived in France for a year, taught English in a public school, and did a lot of couchsurfing. At the end of my trip, I couchsurfed in Paris for three days. During this time, I stayed with a particularly “frenchy-french” Frenchman who was fussy about appearances and social decorum/conventions. For the most part, I thought I did a good job of passing his little tests (e.g. I brought good wine and made dinner in exchange for his hospitality).

    However, when we ended up eating at a little crowded Parisian cafe, I scored major negative points. I ordered a salad and somehow managed to completely fail at eating it correctly. I don’t think I’ve ever missed my mouth or dropped that many pieces of hard-boiled egg on my lap in my life! And then… I fumbled with my fork, it fell on the ground, and I upset my water glass as I reached down to retrieve the lost utensil! There was no laughter. Not a hint of a smile. I watched the respect draining from his eyes, and I was mortified.

    Really, that’s just my way of saying that feeling like the awkward girl can really get you down sometimes. It can totally zap your confidence and make you feel like the kid in the middle of the cafeteria who just bit the dust with a full lunch tray. Personally, I’ve found the best way to deal with this brand of awkward embarrassment is to just laugh at yourself. It’s funny. You managed to miss your mouth with the forkful of marinara sauce. Just laugh. It’s usually contagious.

  7. Deanna responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    I’m a graceful klutz. I have to be graceful since I am a fitness instructor and former dancer, but I am a terrible klutz, I have an oddball sense of humor and I am very self-deprecating. I always wanted to be cool, elegant, mysterious a la Angelina Jolie or Charleze Theron…but just trying to stifle my sense of humor and irony long enough to come across as a femme fatale that men would slay dragons for…hurts my insides. I am who I am.

    I also wake up with bruises all over my body from bumping into stuff.

  8. Erinn responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    This experience resonates with me so much! Thanks for writing about it. Like you say, I think the best thing we awkward folks can do – both for our own sanity and happiness, and for the sake of how we appear to others – is own it, enjoy it, laugh at ourselves, and be who we are. I’ve gotten much better at doing so recently. I’m a professor and so regularly have to deal with stringing together a series of words and phrases that sound coherent in my head but come out like nonsense to my students (or tripping over tables at the front of the classroom, or making inadvertent puns, or fumbling with the av equipment for 20 minutes of class…!) So I’ve just started to call attention to my own awkwardness and silliness, and made it my classroom persona; I think it makes me a lot more approachable. The challenge, of course, is not so much that I feel like I need to look cute to compensate for being awkward but more that I need somehow to occupy the position of ‘authority’ as well … and, for this reason, I suppose the appearance dimension is also still pressing. It’s easier to feel competently and authoritatively awkward if I’m wearing a pencil skirt and heels, feeling pulled together, and really hard to feel that way if I’m having a ‘frumpy’ day…

  9. Ashling responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Awkward can be very appealing; makes the rest of us feel less intimidated! And if your awkward self also has days when you are supremely confident and feel like you own teh world, well…you sound lucky to me! Embrace your awkwardness the way you’re working on embracing the rest of yourself. Oh, and awkward womyn with big noses? How about Barbara Stresand in Funny Girl?! Adorable? Maybe not the first word I’d use. Gorgeous, sexy? Yeah…definitely.

  10. Angie responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    This might be an awkward comment, but you might want to use that Borders gift card before they close forever… I went the other day and everything is 50-70% off! The book nerd in me was in heaven:)

    Okay more on topic… the most awkward thing I think I do regularly is mix up my words. I don’t even know that I do it, but other people notice and give me funny looks until I’m forced to make a quizzical face and say “was it something I said?”

  11. Kate responded on 19 Sep 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    You’re probably right!!

  12. Cary responded on 20 Sep 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Loved your post! Not crazy about the word Autumnal. :o P I actually think it sounds like a awkward word trying not to be. Awkward is a pretty awkward word too…hmm.

  13. Cary responded on 20 Sep 2011 at 1:09 am #

    *AN awkward word. Woops.

  14. jensketch responded on 20 Sep 2011 at 9:40 am #

    She laughed because you were adorable and cute. Trust me. If you were weird or awkward she just would have given you the *evil-eye look and not said a word.


  15. Heather K. responded on 20 Sep 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Congrats on being named on the 100 Top Women who blog!!! Great post and I adore awkward. Mostly it is endearing and honest to me. Awkward IS an awkward word. I agree with Cary!!!

    I am pretty clumsy myself, but have attempted to embrace it as an endearing aspect of myself and not as a sort of liability. I also find that I don’t trust people who are too “perfectly packaged” or put together. There is something more disarming and relaxed about a person who isn’t afraid to be goofy.

  16. shana responded on 20 Sep 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    hi kate, i just discovered your blog here and am enjoying the posts very much. this one reminds me of a line from an old favorite song. it’s about falling in love with “awkward perfect grace.” that was my mantras as a high-schooler trying to figure herself out :)

  17. Kate responded on 20 Sep 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Nice! What’s the song?

  18. joanne responded on 20 Sep 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    “Because, I imagine, people who drop things a lot are only adorable when they’re brilliant men with tousled hair and glasses or fresh-faced, lovely young women whose eyes widen sweetly in surprise at their own clumsiness.”

    It’s true especially in movies. Women on screen can’t be unattractive or mean, but they can’t be “too perfect” either. So what to writers do? They make them clumsy.

    And I guess it’s supposed to be endearing and whatnot.

  19. Kate responded on 20 Sep 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Exactly! Thanks for the video. It’s hilarious.

  20. Lauren responded on 20 Sep 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Believe me, we service people love a good laugh. It’s okay to drop things or say something funny, it sets you apart from the pay-and-leave customer. Cashiering gets boring fast when you have boring customers. : )

  21. shana responded on 21 Sep 2011 at 5:33 am #

    Bright Eyes “a celebration upon completion” ( cheers!

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