Well That Was Awkward…

William Hilsman

Whenever Colgate students describe social events they went to over the weekend, the word “awkward” always comes up. Either the guys/girls were “awkward,” the conversations were “awkward” or, the least specific, the party as a whole was “awkward.” I never really understand what this recurring term means, but I do know that those descriptions always assume one thing: It is someone else who is making the situation awkward, and it is never you.

I look forward to those conversations on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I get to hear the wonderfully colorful recaps from the night before. I love hearing about who awkwardly tried to dance with you, who awkwardly attempted but failed to hook up with you, who definitely flirted with you and the like. Good friends never leave out the important details. However, the stories I like the most are the ones where I witnessed the events. This is when the Colgate student’s creative genius makes itself known. These stories are only lightly based in reality. Those charming descriptions and my own sober observations never match up. In other words, actions that people call awkward are usually not that awkward at all.

Why do Colgate students over-dramatize and embellish their stories? They do so for several important reasons, such as making themselves seem popular, socially literate and wanted by many members of the opposite sex. Calling others “awkward” achieves these goals. It dismisses others as incapable of living up to social norms. If you identify many members of the opposite sex as awkward, clearly, it means that you must have had many potential mates, none of whom were up to your standards. And, clearly, if you can identify others as awkward, then you surely must know the rules. You know what is socially acceptable, you know how everyone should comport themselves at a party and you know the dos and don’ts of the Colgate social scene. Instead of making yourself seem popular, socially literate and wanted, dismissing people you may not know as “awkward” closes you off from meeting new people.

Frankly, what exactly is awkward about someone you don’t know wanting to talk to you and get to know you? What is awkward about a party where everyone may not know each other? Are all social situations supposed to be perfectly comfortable? Going to a party where you know everyone is nice, but it’s also nice to meet new people. Isn’t meeting new people part of the reason for going out in the first place? And how about after you graduate? At some point in the future, you may find yourself at a bar, wedding or other party where, heaven forbid, you may not know everyone. Even worse, people you don’t know may try to talk to you! Awkward! Colgate students have the tendency to close themselves off from meeting new people, instead favoring to stay within their own safe group of friends that they’ve had since sophomore year. If you often find yourself describing parties, people or conversation as “awkward,” maybe you should consider what each of those experiences had in common. You.