As I sit in my very grown-up and professional cubicle at a prestigious Fortune 500 company, I can’t help feeling like I don’t belong. I may just be an intern, but I always thought that once I got to this stage in my life that I would feel accomplished, sure of myself, and well, like an adult. However, I feel more and more like a kid everyday (and not in the fun “kid in a candy store” kind of way, but the “Holy crap! I have no idea what I’m doing!” kind of way). Whenever I get a cup of water (with a straw of course!) from the community kitchen, I’m afraid to look people in the eye, afraid that they’ll find me out (And doesn’t help that I get mistaken for a 13-year old from randos I meet). Sitting in the cubicle across from me sits a co-worker of mine who graduated Texas A&M in ’08, making him only four years older than me. Despite the relative closeness to my age, in my mind, he’s 20 years older and, therefore, I am not allowed to speak to him in a friendly manner due to the professional nature of our surroundings. Yes, the fact that he is like 7 feet tall helps makes him appear to be significantly older than me (he casts a shadow on my desk as he walks by), but you’d think I’d feel comfortable having a casual conversation with him and the other co-workers close to my age. Yet alas, my awkwardness prevents me from properly adjusting to the social aspects of my work environment.
For example, in my third week of interning, I finally decided it was time to pullout the ear buds and jam out to Pandora. Though this plan dramatically decreased my boredom, it increased my paranoia. Why, you ask? My Pandora station does not scream “I work in a cubicle”. It screams “I love Broadway, all things Disney, and reminiscing about the 90’s”. Many a time a co-worker will walk by and say, “Good morning! Whatcha listening to?”… I freeze. Good God! I would really prefer not to explain how I am listening to the Disney Mania 3 soundtrack (and consequently trying to stop myself from dancing in my chair). My response? “ah, you know… stuff…”. Super awkward? I think so.
My awkwardness even follows me home from the office. I often feel like everyone my age and in my classes is significantly older than me, like they know something I don’t. Either everyone has read Adulthood for Dummies or y’all are just really good at acting like you know what you’re doing and have you’re entire life planned out. Simple things like how to act at a happy hour with your employees (super awkward due to the fact that I’m a teetotaler and, as I said before, look like I’m 13), appropriate (yet witty and charming) work/school cafeteria conversation, or, my personal struggle: what in the world do you do at sleepover at this age? How do people learn this stuff? Is it innate or does it take practice?
All I know is Hollywood lies (big surprise). In movies and TV shows, the main character always struggles with his/her awkwardness but eventually grows out of it and, by the time they graduate highschool, is ready to hit the pavement on the journey that is his/her life. But not for me. As I get older, I start to realize how truly awkward I am. Now, I’m not throwing myself a pity party. I rather like my awkwardness (for the most part). Perhaps it’s my innate desire to do what is social proper in any and all situations or the fact that my co-workers aren’t the friendliest bunch that causes me to feel like this. I’ve pretty much decided to take social norms and chunk them out the window. You social norms are far too confusing and causing me more stress than its worth. I guess me and my awkwardness will be getting used to each other. So I say this as a warning to all y’all out there: I often say the wrong things during dinner conversation, I enjoy discussing the intricacies of the Harry Potter books, and I have no problem whatsoever dancing and singing in the middle of the mall or the SMU boulevard, and I will continue to do the previously stated things among others. so prepare yourself to be instantly cast in my impromptu and PUBLIC musical performances.