Everyone experiences awkwardness. The LDS Living editors are no exception. And what's awkwardness without sharing it? Doing so makes everyone feel a little better.
As we talked about our most recent article in our September/October issue about the dreaded awkward stage that all adolescents inevitably pass through, we reflected forlornly on our own past selves, and decided to share them with you as well.
Jamie Lawson, Managing Editor
My awkward stage began at age 10 and lasted until I was 13. In addition to braces and a very attractive headgear that I had to wear for most of my fourth grade year (thankfully, no photos exist), I hadn't developed my own sense of style. I had no idea what to do with my hair, so my mom often gave me perms and/or haircuts at home. The results were usually frizzy hair or uneven bangs cut too short. Her philosophy was, "The more layers, the better!" I was also oblivious to fashion trends, so my wardrobe didn't fare much better. Sorry, Mom.
By the time I started sixth grade, I had to wear rubber bands on my braces--not a great way to impress the boys. I still struggled with my hair and wardrobe (but at least had convinced my mom that perms were not cool), and unbeknownst to my parents, I also experimented with makeup at my best friend's house. Bright red lipstick and blue eyeshadow was our favorite--and sometimes we used blue mascara (it was the '80s, after all).
I kind of hate to admit it, but I finally grew out of my awkward stage by paying attention to how the more sophisticated girls dressed, and how they did their hair and makeup. By seventh grade, the braces came off, and I had a much better idea of how I wanted to express my personality through my appearance. That expression still led to plenty of crazy hairstyles and clothing choices in the years to come (sky-high poofy bangs, anyone?), but I was at least confident in who I was.
Erin Hallstrom, Associate Publisher
When I turned 12 something magical happened to me. I was transformed from a pretty adorable and well-adjusted kid into a ball of insecurity and permed hair. I blame 7th grade. Middle school changed everything for me, and let’s just say I didn’t adjust to my new world quickly. It didn’t help that I had braces and glasses and no idea how to handle my very thick hair in very humid temperatures. I was a little dorky too--I spent most of that year listening exclusively to '50s and '60s “oldies,” which I can assure you, was not the coolest thing I could have done. I am not going to pretend that this time was filled with only mildly adorable dorkiness. Finding my way through adolescence proved hard and was fraught with mean girls, friend drama, and a whole lot of painful personal growth.
I’ll tell you honestly though, if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t ask to be the popular kid in seventh grade. I wouldn’t want perfectly smooth hair and an innate understanding that everyone else is insecure too. In fact, I would probably ask for my awkward years just as they happened . . . with the exception of braces--no one really needs braces for personal growth right?
Kate Ensign-Lewis, Online Editor
I can't remember a specific "awkward stage," but I've had plenty of grimace-worthy moments in my life. And, owing to a pretty sharp memory, I can remember not only the big ones, but my fair share of brief but bad moments.
Like the time in fourth grade (around the time of the awesome photo above) at our school talent show when a particular girl was performing "Star Wars" on the tuba, and it didn't sound too good, and my friend made a joke, and I laughed my loud laugh, and I know the girl heard. And in the 17 years since, I still feel guilty regularly. Or the time three years ago when I was at a Jazz game and said that the referee's call was [r-word], only to realize that an individual with Down syndrome was sitting right in front of me. (I subsequently resolved never, ever to use that word again.)
My point isn't to air dirty laundry, but to show that awkwardness dogs me (and all of us) at all ages. It's comforting to make that realization, because then you stop holding yourself to impossible standards. But aside from embracing the awkwardness, the only way I've found I can get over it is to (1) learn from the mistake, (2) forgive myself, knowing that everyone makes mistakes and is awkward from time to time (see a great quote on this from Elder Hales), and (3) trust that Christ makes up for my faults, after all I can do to fix them. Really, that's the only cure for awkwardness.
Ashley Evanson, Online EditorPoints of awkwardness:
Ruthann Cunningham, Circulation Manager
I really haven't grown out my awkward phase. I still have moments, almost daily, where I just laugh at how awkward I am. One of the many stories came while I was running one day a few years ago.
As I was out enjoying the run I saw some cute BYU guys on a lawn ahead throwing a football. I decided to pick up my speed to try and impress them. As I approached I noticed that they turned to see who was running down the sidewalk (and, I was thinking, at such an incredible speed). I was feeling pretty good about myself as I was passing when all the sudden I tripped on the sidewalk and went down. I quickly tried to pop back up only to notice my knee was bleeding everywhere and the guys had stopped throwing the football and had a look of shock on their faces. I panicked and could only think to turn around and start running back the way I had come. I had only run about 50 yards when I saw a street to turn down trying desperately to get out of their sight.
The only problem was that I quickly realized it was not really a street but a huge driveway into an apartment complex. So I had to turn around run back out onto the street where the football-throwing guys were. I think I ran away from them faster than I had when I approached. I finally did find another street to turn onto and spent the rest of the day laughing at yet another awkward moment in my life.
Kaela Worthen, Associate Editor
My awkward stage lasted from about age nine through ninth grade (and in some ways, through my junior year of high school). And while I had awkwardness in plenty, I also had friends a plenty. And though I was never one of the "cool" kids, I didn't want to be a part of that social network. I valued the the connections I shared with my group of friends (yes, LOTR was one of them, and I may or may not have gone by the nickname "Eowyn" for a while) and the fun we had together and didn't feel my life lacking for any social notoriety. Because while we all go through various stages of awkwardness, whether socially or physically, as we evolve into who we want to be for the rest of our lives, we can still find our niche and appreciate it. What's important is enjoying where you are in life, rather than wishing constantly to be somewhere or something you're not.