When the doctor announced my gender on the day I escaped from the womb, he did so with hesitation. Not because there were complications during labour, or because my penis was so small he wasn’t sure if it was expelled placenta covering up my potential vagina or if I was a boy. No. I am sure he hesitated because his first thought was undoubtedly ‘That is the most awkward child I have ever delivered.’ From my baby photos to my latest Instagram selfie; I have always looked, and been, awkward.
I have lived through more moments that were pregnant with awkwardness than I care to remember. Say the wrong thing. Do the wrong thing. Wear the wrong thing. Repeat. That seems to be my life motto – I wonder if I can get that tattooed somewhere? If there’s one constant in life it’s that everything you do, everyone you encounter, will likely at some point be witness to the cracks in your humanity. I am a very embarrassed person. I feel a lot of shame over things that I really shouldn’t; be that my emotions, or things I’ve said, whatever, I am very ashamed of them. Today my book Toothbrush was realised (the Kindle version anyway, I missed the deadline for the paperback copy, awkward) and it is the most terrifying feeling ever. The first book I hurled onto the internet was riddled with flaws. I was so desperate to be someone worth something that I didn’t take the time needed to ensure I was putting something out there worthy of merit – another shining awkward moment. Now, with this book, I took my time and made sure the content was exactly what I wanted it to be: Something that perfectly illustrates how awkward moments of my life have been. The reason this book is such a big deal to me is because of what I said earlier, that I am embarrassed by myself a lot of the time. I wanted an outlet that would help translate these moments into situations people can relate to and that would hopefully help people understand me better, and in some way affiliate to the stories in the book – because everyone’s life is awkward.
I think a lot of people are like minded in the sense that they see awkwardness as being the same as shame. The book is an anthology of all the little road bumps life has thrown at me. It’s not me attention seeking or page after page of narcissistic drool, it’s me trying to show that it is okay to be awkward and to share those moments with people. Whether that’s broken relationships with parents, lust that’s threatening to evolve into addiction or depression that’s overwhelming us to the point we want to end it all. We carry so much shame about what we really want to say, about how we really feel, that we turn to sites like Tumblr or Curious Cat and post this stuff anonymously. It enables us to talk freely about the struggle we are so desperately trying to avoid, and the shame we are determined to hide. It allows us to be vulnerable about our life, our feelings, our awkwardness. Shame, simply put, is the subjective experience of objective guilt. That’s what this book was for me, a way to quench that thirst; a way to say what I want to say because I still struggle to articulate these feelings and stories face-to-face.
The truth about awkward moments is that they are awkward because we long to be embraced as we are, not as we should be. Last year someone I know told me a person they are close to is now in prison. She was struggling with this a lot more than I thought she was would be. Worryingly my first suggestion to her was ‘You should watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix’ as if I genuinely believe TV shows will magically help you work through all of your dilemmas. This moment was awkward not just because it was a fairly insensitive thing to say, but because it was interpreted as me being a bit of a dick, which wasn’t my intention. During situations like that I do like to offer advice, but at that moment we were at a party and rather than let this girl feel down I attempted to alleviate her mood with humour. The moment was awkward because again I felt like I needed to be someone I wasn’t, so I felt awkward for being me. So much of my life has been painful conversation and desperate attempts at validation and shame is culprit for this. Like the bad guy that is always caught at the end of a Scooby Doo episode, we hate being exposed for who really are.
Life is full of awkward moments and awkward realisations: Attempting to navigate a small talk with someone you like is harder than solving a Rubik’s Cube. The moment you realise you stop getting money in birthday cards around the age you need that money most. The horrible day when you finally understood what sexual intercourse is, where babies came from, and when you went home you couldn’t look at either of your parents directly. Life is full of awkward moments and I wanted to share some of mine with you the only I know how: By writing them. Thank you for reading this.
You can purchase my book ‘Toothbrush’ below. Paperback version will be available soon: