A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Why focusing on the awkward just makes us more so

No one can deny it: Harvard students are really, really awkward.

From the awkward hookup to the awkward encounter to the oft-formed “awkward turtle,” many of our lives have come to revolve around a series of awkward moments. We awkwardly hit “Reply All” when we only meant to “Reply” and we awkwardly make out with someone at a party only to realize they’re a pre-frosh The only thing more awkward than the random, uncomfortable events that unfold in our daily lives is, ironically, our overuse of the word ‘awkward’.

Maybe students at Harvard really are more awkward than the average college-age person. After all, there are 17 Facebook groups at Harvard containing the word ‘awkward.’ And indeed, we seem incapable of living without declaring “awk...ward” a dozen times a day. However, I find it hard to believe that awkwardness, like a meal plan and an email address, comes with enrollment.

Awkwardness is democratic; it does not discriminate. Whether you’re the captain of the Crew team or the president of the Chemistry Club, waving back to someone who actually wasn’t waving at you is still going to sting. But it is simply our eagerness to over-think our actions and over-diagnose our weaknesses that makes “awkward” the mantra du jour of Harvard students.

The current state of awkwardness is little more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. Declaring yourself awkward at the start of a conversation serves as a sort of social insurance against a moment that could potentially turn, well, awkward.

In terms of relationships, claiming that “It’s Complicated” seems funny at first, until you realize that it’s actually not a joke. Before you note the irony in the situation, take a moment to ask yourself: What came first: the label or your life?

If “attitude is everything,” then it makes sense that a person who has already labeled themselves as awkward is more like to be awkward. The way we perceive ourselves is the strongest influence on how others perceive us. So why do we choose, time and time again, to screw ourselves over?

Let’s face it: if awkwardness and “complication” were diseases, then Harvard kids would be a high-risk demographic. And since we already know that we’re prone to the “nerdiness” that makes us susceptible to the infection, then it’s counteractive to foster a culture of self-deprecation in which it can grow. Perhaps it is time to stop obsessing over the awkward kitsch and start having more faith in our own abilities to be functional members of society. Declaring things “awkward” when they are merely natural does nothing but numb us to the truly awkward instances in life. The overpopulation of ‘awkwards’ has become redundant to the point of not saying anything at all, because really, being awkward is old news.

Harvard: we’re here, we’re awkward, get used to it.

Emma M. Lind ’09, a Crimson editorial editor, lives in Grays Hall.