Embracing My Awkwardness

My father was not in the military but he is in a field that necessitates multiple moves during a career, so moving across the country was not unexpected. During my 7th grade year, my family moved from Phoenix, Arizona to southeastern Pennsylvania.  While I was intrigued by the sense of adventure and excited to attend a traditional middle school with lockers, I was also terrified to leave behind the comfortable existence I had cultivated for myself in the desert oasis I knew as home. It turns out that I had good reason to fear my immersion in the Abercrombie & Fitch culture – when I conjure up memories of middle school, I can still feel the pit forming in my stomach. I became withdrawn, depressed, and angry at the world. I probably wouldn’t label myself as a social outcast, but I certainly was viewed as socially awkward and no matter how hard a tried, I just couldn’t fit in (whatever that means).

But while middle school felt like hell on earth at the time, I can now look back (16 years later) and be grateful for the experience. During that time, I became focused and drew hard lines regarding my future and how I would approach life. I set high standards for myself – both academically and personally – and learned about the type of person I knew I did not want to become. As is the case with most new environments, life improved over time. By the time I entered high school, I was finally happy again. Life became exciting, brilliant, and worth living. And most importantly, I had friends. Don’t get my wrong – when I started high school, I wasn’t popular and I think most boys would have rather been thrown into a snake pit than go out on a date with me (for whatever reason, boys always seemed to prefer the pretty girls than the awkward ones like me…go figure). When people ask me about high school, I typically just say that I bloomed later in life. Ha.

Potential forever home in the Adirondack mountains {source}.

I think some look at the potential for multiple moves during a military career as a negative aspect of the lifestyle. Maybe it is because of the lessons I learned during the year my family moved across the country, but I view the multiple moves as a positive. We’re about to move to our fourth location in our seven years of marriage. Before we leave an area, I always find myself sad to leave the relationships we’ve formed and the little secret spaces we have claimed as our own. This is happening now. However, I am also filling with excitement about the unknown and the adventures that lay ahead of us. Transition can be difficult. But I have learned lessons about life, myself, and the world around us with each of our moves that I am not sure I would have learned otherwise. It’s a trade-off, I suppose. There is part of me that dreams of buying our forever home and settling into one place for a long time; put down roots, so to speak. But I don’t think I am ready just yet…maybe I will be when I grow up.

And just in case you were wondering – yes, I still feel awkward. It’s okay. I totally embrace my awkwardness now and wear it as an awesome badge of honor. And I found a boy who is just as awkward as I am. Our poor son – he doesn’t stand a chance. Oh well – awkward is totally better than boring.

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5 thoughts on “Embracing My Awkwardness

  1. Mandy S July 23, 2012 / 8:49 am

    Interesting…I never remember you being awkward…just awesome. Maybe it is because I was always insanely awkward.

    • Karen July 23, 2012 / 9:08 am

      Haha. Maybe we are all awkward and only the awesome people freely admit it. 🙂

  2. aunt Deb July 23, 2012 / 10:38 am

    Labeling your self as awkward during middle school years is probably more the norm than not. Because of your grandpa Garchows carreer, we too moved a few times. The last for me, being the middle of my 7th grade year, to a much bigger school, with lots of cool girls……which I was not! I was recently chatting with a former classmate(one of the “popular” ones) and she said she has regrets about how she acted and how she treated classmates way back. The fact is, we are who we are because of who we were in junior and senior high. The key, is how we live our lives as adults.

    Moving is always an adventure, and I love your sense of spirit about all the upcoming moves you and Clay and Wes have ahead of you.

  3. Erica Robinson July 23, 2012 / 12:31 pm

    I totally agree that we were probably all awkward. 🙂 LOL You were definitely not alone in the awkward category. Glad you moved to PA!

  4. Sara July 24, 2012 / 3:01 pm

    I think middle school is one of life’s biggest jokes. What a terrible time. I’m hoping by the time my son is that age, he can be put into a cryonic sleep for a few years and be spared the shame and misery.

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