Coffee shops are the one place where I feel truly myself. I admit that the exposure to high volumes of caffeine and being able to pay people to serve me without any return expectations does create a bit of an artificial reality.
The thing is, I don’t always fit in. I am what I like to call “delightfully” awkward, and what you like to call, awkward. I don’t think it is something that I can actually change. I think it is just who I am. Although I cannot change my awkwardness I do have some control over the type of awkwardness I display. I constantly fluctuate between inherent awkwardness and cognizant awkwardness. Since I just made up these terms/concepts, I will attempt to explain.
Inherent Awkwardness: Dr. Jekyll
Inherent awkwardness is who you are when all of your guards are down. It is the weird things you say, do and wear when all your walls are down. Inherent awkwardness is a baby dancing, usually naked, at the sound of music REGARDLESS of their surroundings. It is Aladdin’s interaction with Jasmine before he found out she was the princess. Inherent awkwardness is a beautiful thing. It is inhibition-less. It is all your weirdness on divine display. Inherent awkwardness is your pure responses to life, before you are taught to think before you speak, plan before you act, and stop before you dance (spoken to the rhythm-less). Inherent awkwardness is the divine moment before Dr. Jekyll drank of the potion of human opinion and self-awareness.
Cognizant Awkwardness: Mr. Hyde
Yes, but at some point, we all drink of that deadly potion. Human opinion and self-awareness, makes us cripplingly aware of our insufficiencies, and a new kind of awkwardness is born. At times it manifests in the same social norm defying ways, but it is, alas, gravely different. You aren’t saying the wrong words because you are unaware of the right ones, but because you are so weighted by the pressure to speak the right ones. It is cognizant awkwardness that gave birth to the white man’s dance, having more than one fork at dinner, matching clothes, small talk, and, of course, SPANXS. It is cognizant awkwardness that divides the lunchroom by races cliques, and social status. It is when we become so aware of who WE are that we lose who WE are.
The secret of discovering yourself is not becoming more aware of yourself but less. When pressed to summarize the law, Jesus gave only two mandates:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-4).”
Oh the counter-intuitive ways of God! To discover yourself: discover God and others. It is not when you are self-aware that you are free, but it is only when you are God aware and others-focused that you are truly free to be you in all your delightfully awkward ways. It is by this formula alone that relationships work, walls are destroyed and true intimacy is experienced.
In conclusion: God is the divine artist. He never makes two of anything, so stop trying to fit in. Take God’s invitation to be weird today. Be the delightfully awkward inhibition-less you that He created you to be by applying the divine formula of finding yourself: Loving God + Loving others = Discovering the Delightfully “Awkwardly” You!