Live Through This

The Importance of Being Awkward

Time spent as a smelly, flat-chested teenager has its advantages.

“I remember going to my 10-year high school reunion; I was never friends with anybody, and that’s kind of why I went, as a sociological study. What was fascinating was that the people who were deemed antisocial and freaks in high school were now incredibly attractive and well-adjusted. There seemed to be some sort of catharsis about growing up and being alone that made you rely on yourself. What that seems to do, I think, is—the nature of creating, film, painting, whatever—you look to create those things that are lacking in your life. I never used to speak, and all of a sudden you find yourself in an environment where you have to speak to hundreds of people during a day. I’m still not great at that, but I’ve gotten better. We’re weird, hopefully self-healing organisms.” —Tim Burton, Film Comment, 1994

Unless you are one of the four people on Earth who put on magic blades and move from childhood to adulthood without hitting a single bump on the ice, it is highly likely that you will go through some type of confusing, in-between phase. This does not necessarily have to be physical—it can be mental, or emotional—but for many of us, it’s a darling combination of all three.

Your clothes suddenly look as if they were built for someone three years younger. Your mouth decides to rebel, kicking your straight, perfect baby teeth out and replacing them with what appear to be crooked pieces of Pez. Hair shows up, grease settles in, and you find yourself—and you are always yourself—trying to navigate the body of a stranger, pulling internal strings over and over until you get the motions down perfectly, and the outside world connects the spirit with the vessel. Or something.

Celebrities are always going on about their “awkward” phases, whipping out old yearbook photos and recalling stories about looking like goofballs until they miraculously emerged from their shells to become the beautiful people they are today. It is meant to be inspirational and comforting, but it always rings a bit hollow, focusing mainly on external changes rather than the transformation that takes place within and the lessons you can learn from that transformation. So let’s do that, yeah? We won’t start by sitting at a diner together and talking about how one of us is ordering egg whites and looking resplendent in a designer jumper. We’ll start with a serious case of BO.

Empathy for the Stank

In 10th grade, I had an audition for a school production of West Side Story. I can’t dance or sing, but I loved the show so much that I figured I’d show up and a miracle would occur, flashbulbs would go off, and I’d be a star. I wore a polyester blouse that I’d thrifted, because I felt it was my most “professional” piece of clothing at the time. I felt good. I felt ready to go. I felt—musical-theater nerd alert—pretty.

And then my boyfriend came up to me between classes and started asking me if I was nervous about something. “I have an audition after school,” I told him. “Oh, OK,” he said, making a face. “That explains it.” I noticed that he was standing at a distance. “Explains what?” I asked. He just shrugged, said “nothing,” and hurried away to class.

Over the course of the day, I learned that “it” was the fact that I stunk to high heaven. The polyester blouse had apparently rubbed up against my hormonally raging skin and produced an odor akin to old shoes that a dog had urinated in. It was bad. I smelled. And the person I liked more than anyone was the one to point it out. It was humiliating. I felt embarrassed, dirty, and gross, when in reality I was just sweating inside of a cheaply made blouse. Such is life, as my mother always says.

I became so sensitive about smelling bad that I started taking two showers a day, keeping extra deodorant in my locker, and wearing way, way too much perfume. I still smelled, but like the cosmetics counter at Macy’s as opposed to a gym sock worn by a ninth grade boy for eight straight days. Eventually I found a combination of solid personal hygiene and cotton clothes that eliminated the problem altogether, but I never forgot the way my boyfriend stood away from me, as if my smell made me someone different.

There are all sorts of reasons why someone may not smell like gingerbread when they leave the house, and some people either don’t realize it or, like Gordon on Freaks and Geeks, they realize it but can’t help it due to a genetic condition. Guess what? We are living things and not robots. And there is an entire industry built on tapping in to the insecurity that comes with having—gasp—a scent attached to your body that doesn’t come from a bottle. It’s why that demented Glade woman can’t have friends over to her house until she lights a scented candle and why that poor woman runs out to buy Vagisil after finding out “the hard way” that she has vaginal odor.

Nobody wants to be the stinky kid in school, especially during a time in your life when all you want to do is crawl on top of someone else. But all of my girlfriends had ignored the smell that day (to my face, anyway), and the person who supposedly loved me the most just acted confused and repulsed. Nobody had the courtesy to say, “Pix, you kind of stink,” which is understandable, because how do you do that? But if someone had gently pulled me aside, I would have appreciated it. What I’m saying is this: a little kindness, a little empathy, and the knowledge that bodies, in general, are stank factories, can go a long way.

Also: avoid polyester on hot days.

Bright Lights in Humiliation Nation

If there was any doubt that I was developmentally two years behind everyone else, it was erased at the first two boy/girl parties that I was invited to. The first was a Halloween party, where I showed up dressed as a giant bee while everyone else was dressed either in the standard form-fitting cat get-up, or as something sleek and stylish, like my best friend, the Equestrian. The second was a pool party. My one-piece suit, which clung to my body like a book cover, stood out in a sea of two-pieces, all of which appeared to be filled out with bodies that I had no idea my girlfriends were hiding underneath their school clothes. Boys were swarming around one girl in particular—she was the kind who seemed to change from a shy 12-year-old to a full-fledged teenager in the span of two weeks. I spent the party practicing flip turns and wiping the fog from my goggles.

The great Temple Grandin once told Oliver Sacks that she felt like “an anthropologist on Mars,” a description so marvelous that he actually used it as the title for one of his books. It is also fitting for how I felt at these parties and at school dances, watching my classmates move their bodies around in ways that mine just didn’t seem to want to go. I felt as if everyone had received an instruction manual and a new set of body parts and that mine had somehow gotten lost in the mail. All I wanted to do was make out—with anybody—and nobody was interested.

To compensate, I bought all of the teen magazines and tried to follow their instructions, haplessly applying cheap eye shadow and flipping my hair behind my ears. When I tried flirting with the boy I had a mad crush on in seventh grade, he asked me what was wrong with my teeth and said it looked like someone had thrown a cinder block at my face. Another crush lifted a hat I’d been wearing for school spirit day and asked me why my hair was so greasy. “They’re teasing you because they like you,” my mother said. Nope. They were teasing me because my hair was greasy and my teeth were crooked. But thanks, Mom.

Realizing that these fine upstanding gentlemen weren’t going to shove their tongues down my throat anytime soon, and that my copy of How to Be Normal and Beautiful (Promotional C-cups Included) wasn’t on the way, I decided to do two things: accept and adapt. The next time a boy made fun of my teeth or my hair or my pleated shorts (middle school was rough, all right?), it didn’t necessarily hurt any less, but I was armed with a new identity: professional smartass.

“Nice teeth.”

“Yeah, well keep staring at me and maybe your face will scare them straight.”

I refused to let people make me feel shitty for the stuff I was already feeling shitty about. Yes, I know my teeth are crooked, asshole. I also know that you are short for your age, that you haven’t grown any facial hair, and that you peed your pants in fourth grade, but I’m not going to bring that up, because I know how much it hurts. I decided that I could crack a joke to break the tension, but I’d never be as personal as people had been with me. I could play the clown, but I wouldn’t be the bully. I found that the more I made people laugh, the less likely they were to make fun of me. Unkindness had taught me to be kind.

I also started taking a different view of the beautiful girl in the pool. Maybe things weren’t perfect for her, either. Maybe she didn’t like the fact that her two-piece had filled out and that people’s eyes tended to drift downward when they were talking to her. Maybe she wanted to learn how to do a flip turn. Everyone moves at a different speed. You can’t be a sexy cat if you’re really a bumblebee at heart.

Oh, and this one time, a boy in my SAT prep class started talking about how gross periods are and how he didn’t want to hear about them, so I took a wrapped tampon out of my book bag and threw it on his desk. “This is a tampon,” I yelled. “Girls bleed. You want to date one someday? Deal with it.” Not quite L7 levels of rebellion, but I think he got the point. I believe he is married now, and I hope his wife keeps a Costco-size pack in their house.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you have ever French-kissed someone, you are aware that the process involves two mouths, two tongues, and an ideal amount of spit. My first French kiss, in the back of a movie theater (so cliché, but we had snuck in to see The Craft, so it balances out, no?) involved lots of teeth and forehead. In short: we totally missed. We tried again, and we missed again. This went on for maybe an hour. It was horrible. It was like two blowfish, all puffy cheeks and goofy mouths.

“It’s OK,” I told the dude I’d been blowfishing. “We’ll just have to practice.” I think I was trying to sound cute, but I desperately meant it. We would have to practice! If we didn’t get this down, nobody would ever love us, and we’d be doomed to blow popcorn-scented air up each other’s noses forever.

And so we practiced, a few days later, at his house. We missed again. We spent two hours kissing with our lips closed, trying every five minutes or so to slip in a little tongue, only to end up in blowfish territory again. Older people, more experienced people, had told me not to worry about it, that it was “totally instinctual,” which is great advice, I guess, if the instinct in question isn’t total panic. Would this be like dancing, I wondered? Would I have to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else have fun while I drank Dr. Pepper and mouthed the words to Tupac’s “Dear Mama”?

After hours of trying, it was time for me to leave. “Let’s just try one more time,” I said, already defeated. We leaned in. And just like in the movies, or at least a decently funded public-access program, we did it. And then we kept practicing.

Practice is the key to everything: you have to be willing to keep experimenting, to keep trying, to open yourself up to the unknown. You have to be willing to suck—at kissing, at dancing, at making friends, at finding your own style, at writing, at singing, at speaking in front of crowds, at sports, at everything—in order to get better. You’re in a state of constant flux—mentally, physically, and emotionally—and you have to be prepared to shed skin and start over. Fear is a jerk and a bully and it will do whatever it can to stop you. So you need to stomp it out and continue down the path you’ve been carving since the day you were born.

You Are Not Alone, For Real

I used to hate when people said this, because it forced me to pull myself out of my own head and face the fact that, despite the case I’d built, I was not the only one dealing with being a late bloomer. I liked to wallow because I was good at it (and because it was a nice excuse to listen to the Smiths). But eventually I realized that 99% of the people I knew were in the same exact position I was. They weren’t necessarily dealing with it in the same way, but they were insecure, and they felt as if they, too, were the only ones who didn’t belong.

I once told my sister that I didn’t want to wear a tight dress to a dance because I thought everyone would make fun of my body (or what I considered a lack thereof). She laughed and said, “You think anyone cares? Every single person at that party is going to be worried about the same thing.” Sure enough, everyone at the party—dudes included—kept pulling on their clothes, checking their hair, and popping mints. Everyone just wanted to be accepted, but we were all trying to be the versions of ourselves that we thought our peers expected us to be. Years later, we’d start to find out what we were really made of.

The awkward phase is tough. Ask anyone who has been through it and they’ll probably say something like, “I’d never go back” or “I couldn’t do it again.” But they’ll probably also say that it was the time in their lives when they figured out who they were and how to navigate the trickier parts of life. I learned how to empathize, how to adapt, how to improve, how to dig deep down inside of myself for the answers, how to survive.

I learned how to become a self-healing organism, to put on those magic blades, fall down a billion times, and keep on skating. ♦


  • PetitePrince April 2nd, 2012 11:18 PM

    Sometimes, read Rookie just gives me the idea that missed to have the guts to deal with my life.
    And when this is the case, it feels great.
    Thank you for being so true <3

  • DitzyMo April 2nd, 2012 11:25 PM

    I feel as though I could really connect to this, with my braces and seriously awkward length hair, this makes me feel like I’m not the only one :)

  • gill April 2nd, 2012 11:26 PM

    smack dab in the middle of one big awkward phase, so this is really reassuring
    thanks as always :)

  • LittleMissE April 2nd, 2012 11:35 PM

    I’ve been totally despairing over how I’m going to make it through the last two months of eighth grade, and this was exactly what I needed. Thank you always!

  • cakepop April 2nd, 2012 11:47 PM

    I was totally listening to The Smiths right now wallowing in self pity :O

  • sn0wwhite April 2nd, 2012 11:51 PM

    I can relate so much to this article.
    I’ve fallen quite a bit,
    but have managed to keep skating <3

  • fairy_grrrl April 2nd, 2012 11:58 PM

    Blargh freshman year has been the worst because I’ve gained a ton of weight and I feel disgusting (and awkward), so thanks for this <333

  • Torrie April 3rd, 2012 12:14 AM

    I know that I’m still firmly in the middle of my awkward phase (and I’m 19) so I can empathize with the late-bloomer aspect (here’s hoping it ends at some point). Shout out to middle-school-me who was hopelessly unaware!

  • samhatt April 3rd, 2012 12:20 AM

    thank you for this article <3

  • missblack April 3rd, 2012 12:29 AM

    This article is absolutely wonderful. It’s fabulous. It’s AMAZING.

    However I think it is fair to point out that everyone always describes the ‘awkward phase’ as including flat-chestedness BUT there is also the other awkward phase where you suddenly sprout huge boobs at the age of twelve. Being a card-carrying member of the latter group, I can say with confidence that it also sucks.
    (now, though, I’m pretty proud of my boobs so the awkward phase was worth it.)

    Also, the costume party bit totally reminded me of the part in Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging when Georgia goes to the costume party as an olive :D haahahaaha.


    • Abby April 3rd, 2012 9:41 AM

      Haha or in Mean Girls where she comes as a dead bride and everyone else is in some kind of animal ears and lingerie…

    • fairy_grrrl April 3rd, 2012 3:06 PM

      Those books were the best things ever in middle school :p

    • back2thepast April 3rd, 2012 3:53 PM

      AHHH i love those books more than anything in the world. They helped me survive 8th grade

      • Kathryn April 3rd, 2012 5:22 PM


      • fairy_grrrl April 4th, 2012 2:11 AM

        this is late, but I actually love them so much and whenever I’m sad I read parts of them. They’re hilarious to me even now.

  • Yellie April 3rd, 2012 12:56 AM

    This made me feel dead inside. I guess i was never a teenager. No parties, no kissing, no random lust, no B.O… lets see what we can squeeze in these last few years (I’m serious bring on the teenager-ness…PLEASE)!
    See, I realize i’m not alone and THAT is why i feel like crap. I’m fine until someone tells me that “you’re not alone!” and then i want to drill massive holes in my head.

    • Abby April 3rd, 2012 9:44 AM

      I totally understand. In my town, there are pretty much no parties (aside from sleepovers, which don’t really count), because you need a car to get ANYWHERE and there’s no places to hang out. Also, the “cool people” just don’t have parties, for some reason ha. And if they do, they don’t invite anyone but their friends, who are somehow awkwardness-free.

      • Yellie April 3rd, 2012 6:33 PM

        I wish i lived in a small town, i live in a pretty big city but there is so much racial division, most kids only hang out with kids that speak the same language. lol “cool people parties” XD

    • taste test April 3rd, 2012 6:41 PM

      I feel the same way as you. this was an amazing article, but there was also a little voice in the back of my head like “she got invited to her first party at 12? damn, I’m still waiting.” I guess I have just had a lackluster time in high school- not that high school is supposed to be awesome, but I feel like I’ve done absolutely nothing. no Quintessential Teenager Experiences to speak of, good or bad. and I think I get why the “you’re not alone!” thing makes it worse, because it’s like, “great, I’m not alone. if I’m so not alone, why haven’t I had any plans for the weekend in a year and why does everyone act like it’s so abnormal to not have an awkward first kiss story?”

      • I.ila April 3rd, 2012 6:49 PM

        Ditto. It was a great article, but some people (ahem, Taylor-Ruth) go on about how their are such losers and anti-social and weird and then talk all about their boyfriends. Goodness, I’ve never even been kissed. I wish I had even a shallow relationship to give me some sort of… comfort.

    • ann ann ann April 7th, 2012 5:10 AM

      You may not believe me now, but it’s really ok to not have done any of those things in high school. I certainly didn’t. No parties, no boys (well ok, I had a few awkward crushes from afar), total bookworm syndrome.

      It’s only now, in my senior year of college, a few months shy of graduation that I’ve really begun to go out partying. And you know what? It’s really not all it’s chalked up to be. It’s just a thing you do with people. Really, if you never get around to it at all it will not be the end of the world. There are so many wonderful things to experience in life, and those experiences will shape in ways that make you unique from any other person. It’s a cliche yeah, but you really don’t have to experience the things that “everyone else does,” because chances are they’re experiencing it all differently too.

      I had an ex (and yes, I realize that this does out me as holding the been-kissed card) lament that *I* had never done all the typical college things that he held so dear. He pitied me, saying that he felt sad that I hadn’t done “anything fun” in college and that he didn’t want me to regret it later in life. Really? I hadn’t gotten that impression myself, but so nice of him to fill me in on the fact that I was miserable and doomed to a life of spinster-dom or something. And now that I’ve done many of these things he talked about I’m left thinking ,’what was the big deal?’

      • ann ann ann April 7th, 2012 5:10 AM

        I guess my point is to take things at your own pace and don’t fall prey to the pressure of “everyone else is doing it.” IMO there’s really no quintessential teenage experience, despite what all the teen movies would have you believe. You’re going to come out of this ok, even if you don’t touch on some arbitrary milestones that everyone is “supposed” to go through. I know it’s hard to tell yourself that at the time though when it looks like everyone else is breezing past you and leaving you in the dust. I don’t know what I can say to take that particular pain away, but it is my hope that things will get better for you with time. Until then, remember that your experiences are your own. They make up the teen part of you now, and they’ll eventually become apart of the adult part of you in the future. (I’m still working on that whole “adult” thing haha)

        I realize my comment is a bit belated, but I hope it helps.

  • Adrienne April 3rd, 2012 12:58 AM

    Thank you thank you Pixie! This is my favorite article so far. It’s so embarrassing when I sweat and you can see my pit stains eeewww. Plus, My teeth are so dang crooked, and most kids my age already have their braces off yet mine are still on! AND, I’m in some sort of boob limbo where my boobs are slightly developing but are stuck and aren’t fully grown I guess. :(

  • Florence April 3rd, 2012 4:02 AM

    I’m trying to come out of my awkward shell and it’s so scary. Thanks for this article, it was really helpful.

  • moonrat April 3rd, 2012 6:26 AM

    Loved this article, so honest and true. I used to have a huge complex about my crooked teeth and curly hair, I used to never smile and spend an hour straighten my hair every morning.

    I still have my crooked teeth and curly hair, I don’t even want to get braces and even touch an iron any more. Because I was born this way for a reason. My crooked teeth don’t make me unhealthy, in fact they can be rather useful.

    Besides, If someones gonna judge me because I have crooked teeth and springy hair, why would I want to be friends with them?

  • ivoire April 3rd, 2012 6:45 AM

    After reading this article I am starting to believe that I have a case of extreme social awkwardness. These problems are beyond anything I could perceive. I don’t have a boyfriend or have never even been to a boy girl party or have never had a full conversation with a guy,. I even feel awkward on online social platforms. I am not normal.

  • starcollector April 3rd, 2012 7:01 AM

    The quote from Tim Burton actually made me kind of teary. Tim had trouble with friends in high school too? *sniffle sob sniffle* Does this mean I can one day be Tim Burton?!

    All Burton aside, Thank you for this article. I’ve had pretty bad acne since I was in fifth grade and it’s a nice thought that I’ll be better off later because of it!


  • Maybe April 3rd, 2012 7:28 AM

    OMG now I remember, I had something really similar happen to me when I was 13. Either I had been using a deodorant (instead of an antiperspirant) that was just much too weak for my purposes, or I had forgotten to put on anything at all, I was so new to this stuff. In any case, by the time I arrived at church group, it wasn’t all lillies and roses anymore. But instead of just heading home, like a normal person, I decided to stay, because they were checking attendance (long story). Also, I think I was suffering from hare-in-the-headlights syndrome. And I’m extremey stubborn, I just decided this was not supposed to happen, so it wasn’t happening. So I put on my plastic-y jacket to somehow cover it up (baaaaad idea). At the end, we were supposed to act out a play, and I decided to volunteer. At some point in the end, one of the other volunteers rather loudly told me I stunk, with the mic not far away. I don’t know how many people heard that, but I was mortified. Five years later, I have found my perfect antiperspirant, but it’s still something I have to constantly manage because I sweat rather easily. <3

  • Abby April 3rd, 2012 9:38 AM

    This is just… just… LITERALLY THE BEST THING EVER. Just saying.

    I had a VERY awkward shell in middle school, and unlike you (you nice person, you), I was NASTY to people who made fun of me, which didn’t get me re-labeled as what I would have liked (i.e., someone who wouldn’t get made fun of because people were scared of them), I got re-labeled as the weird bitch, which just made people make fun of me more.

    Now that I’m a senior in high school, I’ve realized that being ridiculously nice to people has gotten me far in life. Granted, I think most of the people after freshman year got lives and realized that making fun of others was stupid, but I’d like to think that my being a nice person has helped me. Now I just have a reputation of the nice girl, which I’m okay with. Because I am a nice girl. Also, that girl with the weird rings… which no one seems to want to ask about… they’re actually just because I have a tendon condition, and people would know that if they’d just ask! I’m not going to punch them! Remember?? I’m a NICE GIRL.

  • Juniper April 3rd, 2012 11:32 AM

    This is the best thing ever.
    I love how you say that sometimes the awkward phase teaches you compassion and sympathy because it totally does!

    • Asha April 3rd, 2012 9:06 PM

      I know right!
      every time someone shove their ‘personal judgement’ about me like, um… “bitch!” or “two-faced-freak” I don’t feel like getting revenge. instead, I laughed at it and think oh, well.. at least they noticed me.

  • music_is_love April 3rd, 2012 11:39 AM

    Geez.. you just explain everything so well, and make me feel normal, without saying “it’s alright, you’re perfectly normal” like shrinks says.. I’m an atheist, but if I was to choose my own bible i’d be Rookiemag for sureee!! THANKS

  • Jes April 3rd, 2012 12:02 PM

    you are a lovely writer.

  • Besu April 3rd, 2012 12:51 PM

    this is great!

  • SunshineJilly April 3rd, 2012 1:43 PM

    Beautifully written article as always, Rookie. You could not be a better group of ladies (and a few men :D) to look up to.

    Embrace the awkwardness!

  • hollz April 3rd, 2012 2:09 PM

    I was very awkward when I was in first year (11-12 years old) and extremely quiet. Due to this, and the kind of people I went to school with, I did not have any friends. At all. I was so lonely, all I wanted was a friend who liked Nirvana and didn’t judge me. I ended up not enjoying high school until the end of 5th year (16 years old) cause I was absolutely sure I was leaving. I’m at college now, and I do have a lot of friends. I pride myself on being pleasant and making an effort with everyone in my class. Being constantly left out in high school has taught me what it’s like and I always invite everyone everywhere. I like to include everyone. I’m still quite insecure about some stuff though. I still occasionally think nobody likes me and I’ve never been kissed, even though I’m 17. Another thing is I still live in my parents house, in the countryside and I’m not friends with anyone who lives near me. All my pals from college live really far away and it sucks. I’m on spring break at the moment. I really miss college. Sorry for writing so much but Rookie articles always make me wanna write a lot. I wish I was aware of this site when I was in high school. The irony is a girl from my college told me about it.

    • Mags April 3rd, 2012 10:50 PM

      I didn’t kiss a guy till I was 18. Don’t even worry about that!

  • back2thepast April 3rd, 2012 3:55 PM

    One of my favorite chickas smells quite similar to what you’ve been describing…so just wondering, should I say something? If so, how would I say that in a gentle manner?? I don’t want to embarrass her but oh man, staannkk

    • SunshineJilly April 3rd, 2012 4:24 PM

      You should say something, but you should do it in a comfortable, private setting and casually mention the changes of her body that she might not be aware of.

      Last week, I had to tell my 13 year-old brother that he needed to wear deodorant and it went something like this,

      “Ian, you are the greatest person in the world and nothing you could do would ever bother me, but you’re older now and you need to be equipped with some deodorant to face those high schoolers.”

      *Hands deodorant.*

  • homouscheesecake April 3rd, 2012 5:22 PM

    another good rookie article

  • Mustachefan April 3rd, 2012 9:13 PM

    This is lovely. AHHH!

  • Mags April 3rd, 2012 10:48 PM

    Oh, this brought back so many memories.

    Dear Middle-school-me,

    I love you and your weird, lopsided hair. You are awesome.



  • Sea goddess April 5th, 2012 12:02 AM

    Oh my Lord this is just PERFECT with all capital letters, i love how rookie isnt like those other cheesy magazines who say dumb stuff about being a teenager, but actually face it and say it how it really is and how after it we look back and know all we have learned and being trough and feel awesome for never giving up

  • racharlz April 11th, 2012 2:49 PM

    truth! glorious writing. i had at least 4 laughter-induced asthma attacks

  • oriana April 14th, 2012 12:14 AM

    This really hits home.

  • trickerie April 14th, 2012 6:49 AM

    I think I’m in the middle of an awkward phase but it’s bizarre comparing my current sixteen year-old self to my outgoing twelve-year old grader self. In seventh grade to ninth grade, I was so sure of fitting in. I styled my hair a certain way, hung around and moved amongst certain crowds, constantly going out for the sole purpose of scoping out guys and getting new boyfriends. But as tenth grade came, I arrived with a newfound sense of awkwardness. I focused on my education, forgotten the friends who weren’t just trophies, stopped falling in ‘love’. I became this awkward girl who isolated herself in uncomfortable situations, who had trouble approaching conversations and keeping them. I’m still awkward that even at a party, I’d be invited to hang around a crowd multiple times yet always refused or revert back to my reclusive state until I finally felt comfortable with them. I became more of the person I truly am, the person I want to be, yet I shut myself out from people who I feared would mock me for it.

  • Fanfanfarlo May 9th, 2012 9:58 PM

    All of this is so great. Just re-read it, but one part feels frustratingly applicable right this minute.
    I just had my first real kiss a few days ago. I’m about to graduate high school and have been seeing a freshmen at the local uni for a couple of weeks. Today, he started laughing at me because I was so lost… Luckily for me he thought it was cute and decided to “teach me” but it was still rather embarrassing. Urgh high school

  • CatherineSD May 31st, 2012 6:59 PM

    You seriously don’t understand how much I needed to read this.
    Thank you. Thank you so much

  • anindieeducation June 29th, 2012 4:15 PM

    This is so relevant to me right now. I’m in sixth form college in England, and after struggling through high school I finally seem to be happier with my lot. But, while at seventeen, everyone else seems like adults; out drinking, partyin, and having sex left, right and centre it seems like I am still way behind. I am unintentionally awkward, still growing my hair out, still waiting on boobs to fill my A bra, a snog, a boyfriend, a better social life; but this awkwardness, this stage of bad dress sense and being rejected makes me stronger in the long run. I know that confidence and happiness is what makes you attractive to others, not perfect makeup or an ability to smoke cigarettes with the in-crowd. I also know that I will get my time but in the meantime, I should enjoy this weird limbo between cute child and glossy adult, because hey, it can only get better