The seasons of awkward

“Hurry up and graduate”, they say. It’s time for you to get on your way! What do you do when you finally “make it” after years of studying up, preparing for the “real world” and attain your first “big girl job”? You dive in head first. That’s what I did, anyhow. But, after analyzing my one and a half years fully employed in the U.S. workforce, it has been easy to identify many areas in this new stage of “life” that I was not taught or prepared for in college. It’s all wrong.

Forewarning, this interpretation could be crazy… but I’m used to it now. 

Over the past few weeks, many thoughts have run through my head. Some could be logical. Others could be derived from my changed diet and bodybuilding altering my hormones and emotions (which could actually happen).

Caroline's Cues | The seasons of awkward

Why awkward?

We all have had our awkward moments. In beginning life stages, we are in a realm full of experiments.

We are uncertain.
We sometimes do not know the next thing to say, see, feel or do.
We are awkward.

Through stages, we develop and grow out of it… or so, we think. Parents, teachers, friends, coworkers, strangers in public all influence us to evolve out of the “awkward” life moments. Once we get through the terrible teenage years and into our 20s, we think we have made it.

Wrong.

Life stays challenging. If it doesn’t, you may have become complacent or just go each day accepting the life you lead and the circumstances you face.

I do not.

Work-life balance, moving away from home, maintaining relationships, identifying faith, finding hobbies, making friends and reviving our life goals and passions are tough. More than half of the things I experience daily in my job I did not learn how to handle or approach from a college course. I’m not even practicing what I studied in college (and neither are many of my friends).

Yesterday, I had three different phone conversations with friends living across the country. You know what is interesting?

All of us have identified at least one of the above topics as a challenge.

One of the ladies I spoke with is a good friend named Jordan. She shared something similar to below and is exactly what I have needed to hear.

“We are all going to have seasons of awkward. If we are not questioning our actions, our decisions, our beliefs, or our ambitions, what does that make us? Many of our peers do not do this. I think the 20-somethings need to take time to examine these things. It is intimidating and scary to think about it. However, no one tells you the differences between situations that are “good” difficult or “bad” difficult. That’s what you must discover on your own.”

Today’s season: uncertainty

I don’t know if you can classify it as a “mid-life crisis”, but definitely a feeling of uncertainty. Coincidently, I stubbled upon this article from the Harvard Business Review. I can see myself overmonitoring my thoughts and actions. However, I also feel it is important to identify key factors and people in my life who know the true Caroline and if I am being too analytical or if something else is going on. 

This goes back to Jordan’s reference of separating two types of difficult. Let me explain a bit.

Good Difficult: experiences or situations that challenge you and make you grow, with progression towards something ahead. Usually in your career or personal endeavors and you know it will make you stronger, but you just have to get past the breaking point.

Bad Difficult: experiences or situations that are initially perceived as positive for growth, but actually end up evolving into a destructive or negative side affect and avoidance of real issues at hand. These could be working out a tough issue in a relationship or avoiding feelings deep down of circumstances you can control but are choosing to avoid.

I do not think these can be identified quickly nor easily. However, by probing and asking questions of my closest peers, mentors, and loved ones, it can help me start to find the separation.

Season two, coming at you

I do not believe this a common experience, especially at age 23. However, putting words to my thoughts and feelings and talking through with close people in my life is helpful. I have never considered myself “normal” among my peers and colleagues. Nobody likes vanilla… I’d pick the double chocolate and peanut butter. 😀 However, one thing is certain.

Everyone experiences seasons of awkward. 

We cannot avoid it. It will appear in everyone’s life at some point, maybe a different time than others. Self-discovering, learning, reading, investigating and pursuing what we want or think we want in life is all we can do. 
I’m also going to spend more time talking to the big man upstairs. Seasons will shift, with time and prayer. Then, the awkward will move out and something more stable will arrive.
Have you gone through a season of awkward? What helped you weather the storm or move to clearer climate? It’s time for me to learn and figure out how to overcome my current awkward…

(any and all tips are welcome)