15 Unconventional Ways To Use Your Awkwardness To Your Advantage

15 Unconventional Ways To Use Your Awkwardness To Your Advantage Shutterstock

We can all be awkward at times.

It’s part of the human experience, especially when we encounter something or someone new. Maybe you’ve stumbled through a first-date dinner conversation or tried a joke nobody laughed at. You aren’t alone, friend, but take heart! There are some unconventional ways to use your awkwardness to your advantage.

1. As a buffer for public speaking

woman giving business presentation at work

I took several high school and college courses that required public speaking. One of the key takeaways from all of my teachers and professors was the art of truth-telling. Simply starting a speech or presentation with, “I’m really nervous but appreciate your attentiveness,” sets you up for success. Admitting when you’re awkward instantly eases the tension or pressure in a room and lets others know what to expect. This gives you peace of mind and doesn’t force you to “fake it ’til you make it.”

2. As a chance to read the room

Couples Dancing And Drinking At Evening Party

Many times, when you’re the awkward one, you don’t like to steal the crowd. The good news is that you aren’t expected to either. This gives you ample time to read the room no matter the situation, celebration, or occasion. Once you understand how everyone is getting along or interacting, you can more easily locate where you want to mingle.

3. As an opportunity to think before you speak

Outdoor shot of young couple with drinks talking on a rooftop party

When people know that you aren’t the conversation starter, the pressure isn’t on you to speak up when you show up at the dinner table and discover that your dad and brother just had it out. You aren’t expected to take over your friend’s karaoke birthday party when that one drunk guy won’t let go of the mic. Regardless of how tense, annoying, or joyous an event is, you aren’t expected to be the spokesperson. What a relief, right?

4. As a way to dip out of conversations

Just as you aren’t expected to be the person kickstarting all conversations, you aren’t expected to stick around for hours either. Nobody’s labeled you Chatty Cathy, so the moment a conversation no longer interests you, whether it turns to politics or some hobby you care nothing about, you can politely smile and find a simple reason to excuse yourself. Better yet? No one anticipates that you’ll return, ripping and roaring to talk.

5. As an avenue to ask questions

Most of the time, awkward people don’t want to be the focal point, so what about date night? You have a guy across the table who is genuinely interested in you, so how do you show your interest in him without feeling like all the pressure is on you to gab all night? Ask him questions. Let him talk about his family, his favorite sports teams, what his career dreams are, etc. From there, you can interject similarities or your own stories. This shows that you are interested in him but gives him the floor to carry most of the conversation.

6. As a roadmap for discovery

The more questions you ask, the more you discover about another person—that is, if you practice healthy, respectful listening skills. Don’t disregard the benefits of letting other people reveal who they are. This lets you pinpoint who’s a true friend or worth dating. Meanwhile, it’s a great indicator of who is full of themselves, judgmental, self-centered, etc. It’s an easy way to “clean house” of people who don’t belong in your life.

7. As the motivation to better understand yourself

When you admit that you’re awkward, you have the chance to ask yourself why. Are you awkward because of that embarrassing incident when you peed your pants in elementary school? Do you feel like your parents never taught you how to respond to middle school bullies? Could you never find someone you clicked with in high school? Let these questions motivate you to better understand who you are and discover if there are ways you can address any sensitivities or insecurities.

8. As a way to mitigate disagreements

Just as you can use a quick “I’m nervous” to open a speech, you can employ this same tactic to mitigate disagreements. A simple “Conflict makes me uncomfortable” lets the other party know that the disagreement or tension needs to be addressed with calmness and consideration.

9. As a means to see who people really are

For those who don’t respect how uncomfortable certain situations make you, perhaps they shouldn’t be in your circle. If they let a disagreement erupt into a yelling tantrum without any regard for you, take heed. If they volunteer you to lead the work presentation, knowing your greatest strengths have already been employed to create the visuals for the PowerPoint, politely call them out. Let your awkwardness make people show their true colors.

10. As a springboard for self-improvement

Sometimes, we are awkward for self-induced reasons. We don’t want to push ourselves to get out of the house and make friends. We’d rather hide behind our cell phones or the comforts of our nostalgic television shows. While there’s certainly a time for rest and “me” time, recognize when those awkward feelings can be worked on, allowing you to be a more vibrant, involved friend, partner, or coworker.

11. As a gateway to empathy

You get what it’s like to be the awkward one. People often look at you funny when you show up to the party… or you just don’t get invited. You aren’t by yourself. There are plenty of other people who feel as awkward as you. Let this be the gateway to empathy. Encourage others in ways to understand their awkwardness and use it to better themselves.

12. As a reason to help others

Maybe you have a cousin who feels like you, awkward in public and shackled with social anxiety. However, both of you are expected to be at a family wedding. Perhaps you two can make plans to sit by each other at the ceremony and reception. You can help each other get through a big, glamorous event like a wedding.

13. As a way to appreciate the non-awkward people in your life

Us awkward folks need a not-so-awkward person who will fill the gap for us. I clam up in certain social scenes, especially when people are inebriated. My husband, on the other hand, knows how to respectfully and calmly make the most of these sorts of events. I let him take the lead in conversations, navigating the entire evening, which makes me feel safe (and not as stuffy).

14. As an understanding of how the world works

We all have prior experiences that make us feel insecure, but some of us are more awkward than others. That’s just life. There’s a balance to everything, including how we interact with others. When you know who you are, quirks and all, you can better appreciate how others are different. This sets the stage for personal contentment.

15. As a chance to practice contentment

A beautiful woman meditates on a poppy field at sunset. Wellness well-being happiness concept.

Contentment must be practiced. It’s a daily exercise of noticing what makes you unique, even your awkwardness, and allowing this to set the stage for celebrations and opportunities for self-improvement. Does your awkwardness allow you to discern people, seeing their true colors quicker than others? Celebrate that! Use it to your advantage! Does your awkwardness compel you to practice public speaking so you can be a voice for your kiddos at the next PTO meeting? Let that motivate you!

Peyton Garland is a boy mama and Tennessee farmer who loves sharing her heart on OCD, postpartum life, and hope in the messy places.