That’s not awkward at all

By Jenna Tuttle

I abstain from using the A word. This particular A word is not short for a–. It’s not innocent censorship, not like H-E-double hockey sticks. My A word is an abbreviation for awkward, an over used and damaging speech trend in my Tam High life. Walking through campus this very afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice just how many students were dropping A bombs left and right.

However, it hasn’t always been this way. Not until recently has this trend had such an overwhelming presence in everyday life at Tam. “Look at that outfit! How awkward,” a student could say. Or maybe something more along the lines of, “Jenna, your character traits and dispositions… awk!” Ever since I became aware of this increasingly popular buzzword, I’ve been incredibly annoyed. This is partly due to the sheer number of times I hear Tam kids use it daily, but mostly because of its meaning.

You see, I don’t believe in awkwardness. Sure, it’s easy to blow off a seemingly uncomfortable conversation by throwing in an “ummm… awkward!” and blaming the situation on the other party’s social ineptitude. For me, however, it’s better to laugh off the whole conversation: should it really have been that uncomfortable in the first place? Is it even necessary to label someone or something as awkward?

Other cultures don’t seem to think so. In Spanish, for instance, there isn’t a direct translation for awkward. I once asked a bilingual student how to say awkward in Spanish. She hesitated before giving me an answer. The closest word is extraño, which also translates to weird. This means that not everyone finds the need to label a situation awkward. Instead, as shown in the Spanish language, the uniqueness, or weirdness, of the situation is described. That’s like saying tortuga extraña, or weird turtle, instead of awkward turtle. What a concept: praising a strange situation instead of condemning its discomfort.

A fortnight ago, after putting all of this evidence before myself, I realized that I absolutely had to stop saying “awk,” “awktopus,” “awkward,” or any of its variations. I was contributing to a trend that encouraged uncomfortable situations instead of embracing weird and funny ones. I was adding to the pool of annoying repetition. And I needed to abstain. At this point, I decided to stop saying “awkward” for three days. This soon turned into over a week of avoiding the A word. This period of time opened my eyes to the over usage of a Tam catchphrase. Now, every time I find myself urging to drop the A bomb, I think twice.

Written by Jenna Tuttle. This is an online exclusive article.