This post is part two of a two-part series. Check out part one here if you’re unsure of your “awkward” status or if you’re interested in experiencing some second-hand embarrassment via awesome GIFs.
For my fellow awkward Christians, here are some of my suggestions for coping with your awkwardness, based on my own attempts to just deal:
1) Channel your insecurities into a renewed focus on God.
Whenever I’m with a group of church folk whom I regard as good friends but I still feel out of place, I’m reminded — this world is not my home. Whenever I’m with friends from college, some of my closest friends, and I still feel out of place, I’m reminded — this world is not my home. Whenever I’m at a family function and I feel different from everyone else, I’m reminded — this world is not my home. As perfectly stated by Paul in Philippians 3:20, “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you have the perpetual feeling that you’ll never quite belong anywhere on this earth, draw closer to Jesus. Recognize the lack of fulfillment you get from social interactions, and realize that true fulfillment will only come from developing a relationship with our Lord. Instead of focusing on your insecurities, focus on reaching the main goal: “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:14.
I forget this too often, and instead try too way hard to fit in with various social groups. I constantly need to remind myself that we — Christians who are called to live holy (i.e. separate) lives — aren’t always supposed to fit into this world. We are called to be lights in a dark world that wants us to confirm to based standards and lifestyles that would likely offend God or pull our attention away from him. We should take our rejection in stride with the full confidence that we are working toward a greater goal — the greatest goal.
2) Use your awkwardness to connect with others.
If you’re like me, one of the underlying fears behind your aversion to social interactions is that you’ll make a complete fool of yourself as soon as you open your mouth. You may be thinking of the most intelligent, logical reply; but instead the most untimely, uncomfortable thing things spews out your mouth before you can catch it. Now I think it’s best to just give into the fear of sounding stupid — and embrace it. (Note: I am NOT suggesting you say whatever reckless and offensive thing pops into your head. We should always be mindful of whether our words are honorable to God and the recipients of our words). It took some time, but I finally accepted that I am who I am: unintentionally ridiculous and embarrassing. Consequently, I make a fool of myself on a daily basis. I’ve come to learn that this vulnerability and openness to being ridiculous actually helps me connect with other people. By typically being the first person to do or say something embarrassing in a conversation, I sometimes establish an invisible “judgement free” zone that enables the other person to feel more comfortable. Conversely, when I’m focusing too hard on being normal, I come off as insincere. Of course, there are some who are less than impressed with my candid, silly nature, but haters are gonna hate, right? Just kidding; but seriously — it isn’t possible to please everyone; those who are drawn to your nature will be the people you have closest relationships with — the people who will matter most.
Whatever insecurities you have that cause you to shy away from humans — embrace them! Let your quirkiness be what defines you.
3) Push yourself out of comfort zone by introducing yourself to new people.
I know, I know: Nothing is appealing about engaging a stranger in a convo, only to fumble around in awkward small talk for several excruciating minutes (all the while praying that you’ll find something, anything to bond over). Still, I strongly urge you to do just that. Rather than make a quick dash for the exit, stay and talk to the person sitting next to you in your pew.
By constantly confronting your anxieties and allowing yourself to experience them, the power those anxieties hold over you will diminish over time. Trust me: Pushing yourself outside your very restricted comfort zone will help you get over many of the insecurities you develop by being an introvert. I’m not sure you’ll ever feel normal or less awkward, but at the very least you can start to embrace your awkwardness.
Most importantly, when you let your guard down a bit, you’ll find that people aren’t so scary after all — in fact, they are probably as nervous as you are about social interactions.
I’m so glad I gave my brethren a chance to get to know me. Not only have they been essential to my spiritual development, but I’ve also realized some of them are more awkward than I am and they’re still awesome — what a relief!