Sunday, October 9, 2011

That Awkward Phase

We've all heard it: "Oh, bless her heart; she's going through that awkward phase." Knowing glances and head-nods follow such a comment, usually, as all eyes fall upon said awkward child, often a mess of braces and gangly limbs and overgrown feet. Were you her? Did you overhear those comments and pray for a trapdoor to appear in the floor beneath you and swallow you up?

The Awkward Phase occurs at different times in a woman's life, I think. For some, it hits with puberty and erodes the self-confidence for three or four years before giving way to a rebound of teenage promiscuity. Or for others, maybe it swoops in during the high school years when there never seem to be any seats left at the "cool table" in the cafeteria, leaving you hunched over a brown paper bag or styrofoam tray surrounded by freaks and geeks: your people. It seems Awkward Phases are as unique and individual as the women and girls they strike.

My own Awkward Phase had its unfortunate genesis at age three and became tangible and obvious around age six. Prior to age six, I was (quite frankly) rather adorable. But the cuteness factor wore off around the sixth year of life (See archived post about this tragedy here: and gave way to clumsiness and self-consciousness and about 29 years' worth of blurted-out faux pas I wish I could take back. That's right--29 years. See, I don't think I've ever quite outgrown my own personal awkward phase. Oops.

I still trip over my own feet and have very little awareness of my appendages (constantly bruised elbows and hipbones attest to this), and I still wish I could retract approximately 40% of the things I say, the emails I send, the comments I leave on people's Facebook statuses. Basicially, I second-guess everything I do -- or, wait, maybe I don't. Maybe that's an exaggeration. (See what I mean?)

And now that I'm turning 35 (how the heck did that happen?) in a couple of months, I've decided that maybe the Awkward Phase isn't going to wear off at all. Maybe it's who I am. Maybe it's got something to do with the fact that this world is not my home and was never meant to be all that comfortable. Or maybe I'm just my own brand of weird -- just like you are your own brand of weird. Maybe it's totally normal to brush my teeth in the shower and sleep with my childhood blankie and habitually sing harmony along to annoying jingles on the radio and listen to Christmas carols in August just because they make me happy. Maybe you second-guess yourself just as much as I do and you just don't blog about it. Maybe the fact that I do is just part of my weirdness and maybe I should just keep on truckin'. As a woman said in a group I led last week, "Jus' do you, baby. Jus' do YOU."

I thought that by the time I reached thirty-five, I'd be The Woman I Always Wanted To Be. Here's a thumbnail of her: Long legs and a graceful stride, delicate features and a certain uber-feminine grace, and everyday is a good hair day and her house always smells like clean laundry and vanilla cake, and her children respect her always and her husband finds her lovable and endearing, and she is both professional and domestic all at once, and she is respected in her community and in her chosen field, and you can just tell that's she's been with Jesus . . .

Wait. That last part -- maybe . . . Maybe it's enough. Maybe that last part erases a multiude of "awkward." Maybe it eclipses all the other qualities, anyway. Yes . . .

Maybe we are who we are -- broken, weird, strange, unique, imperfect, wayward, wind-tossed sojourners in a land that is far from our home. Maybe we don't outgrow that awkward phase until we are reuinted with our Maker, made complete in His arms, clicked in like a puzzle piece that fits just so. And maybe when I am feeling especially awkward, it's because I've spent a little too much time away from Him . . .

I don't know: it was just a thought. I'm already second-guessing it.