Why are we so awkward? We’re adults, and we’ve managed to get pretty far in life. Or at least get out of bed most days. But there are some things we can’t manage for ourselves, which makes us just as awkward now as we were in middle school. You know the feeling. You’re in the middle of adulting and having a conversation with a work associate. Then, you accidentally spit on him while you’re talking. You pause because you’re embarrassed, and you assume he felt it. He didn’t. Now you don’t know whether to tell him there’s a little bit of your spit on his chin. So, he keeps talking but you’re in a whole different world where the only thing that matters is watching your spit soak into his skin and wondering if you should wipe it off or run away. In the meantime, you’ve missed everything he just said.
No one knows how to handle this moment. It’s a mystery that humanity will never solve. Here are some other awkward moments we all understand and make us question everything about our lives every time they happen . . .
Elevators With Strangers
You could have taken the stairs. You didn’t though, because you were the only one in the hallway when you pressed the Up arrow. Then, right at the last minute as the elevator door is opening, some random guy who works in your building runs through the doors to join you. You don’t want to look at one another because it’s too awkward. Do you say hello? Do you look down, to the side, up? Do you stand still and clear your throat to break the silence? There’s no rule book on this. We need a rule book.
When No Laughs at Your Joke
Everyone’s sitting around the lunch table, and you haven’t said much. You’re waiting for the right time to jump into the conversation. You wish someone would say, “So, does anyone know at least 10 quotes from The Office off the top of their head?” You would nail that. But no one says it. Then, finally, you come up with a witty retort to something someone else said! Great! You throw your wit out there like a perfectly pitched baseball, and . . . crickets. No one laughs. No one even says anything. It grows really quiet in the room except for the sound of your failure. You pretend to cough, and you wait for someone to start talking again. You debate whether you will ever speak again, anywhere.
Holding the Door Open for Someone When They’re Too Far Away
You had good intentions. As you entered the building, you saw someone walking behind you, so you held the door. You’re feeling like a good person–like Gandhi or Mother Theresa. Except . . . the guy looked like he was closer when you saw him in the reflection of the door. Now, you kind of want to close the door and just go in, but you don’t want to ruin this good deed. And the other guy sees you balk, so he has to start running to catch the door. Now he’s breaking into a sweat and you’re wondering why you didn’t have better judgment. From now on, you’re not holding the door for anyone. You’re boldly ignoring all the people behind you, forever.
Going in For a Hug When All They Wanted Was a Handshake
He seemed glad to see you. He gave you a big hello, a friendly smile, and–most importantly–a lean-in. You assumed he was planning a hug so you opened your arms wide. Suddenly, he reaches out for one of your outstretched hands and shakes it. You pretend you weren’t looking for a hug. You were just going for a last-minute stretch right before greeting your old friend with a handshake. Yep. That was your plan all along. It’s fine. You’re fine.
Asking Someone at a Store Where the Hammers are and Realizing He Doesn’t Work There
All the employees are wearing red shirts, and you need help. Your brain connects the dots when you see the next redshirt walking down an aisle. So you ask, “Can you tell me where the hammers are?” He looks over his shoulder, assuming you’re asking someone else. You’re not. Now you’re both looking at one another in silence. “Um, I don’t work here,” he says. You could have just said, “Oh, I’m sorry,” and moved on with your life. Instead, you make it worse by rambling, “Oh, I just thought that–well–because of your red shirt–and you have it tucked in like them–the employees here–that–you know–work here.” He smiles and walks away, and you just leave the store. Amazon is much safer than talking to people in public.
When You Talk to Someone and Your Voice is All Cracky Because You Haven’t Spoken Yet Today
You got up early, had your coffee, and you’re out! Feeling good. Looking good. Then, your boss calls. No problem–you got this. Except, you haven’t had to use your voice yet today. You sound like a gravelly, frog-voiced old man. To quickly recover, you go through a series of quick–and loud–coughs and grunts. Your throat is finally clear, and your boss is silent. He assumes he woke up and wonders why you aren’t on your way to the office yet. So, do you explain the voice issue or pretend none of that just happened?
Facebook Stalking Someone And You Accidentally Like One of Their Photos From Five Years Ago
It began innocently enough. “I wonder what she used to look like? What did she do for fun? Where did she go to college?” Now you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, and you’ve switched into autopilot. That’s when it happens. You think, “That’s a good picture of her,” so you like it. Fear. Terror. Panic. And even worse, now you’ve made it awkward. You can’t unlike the photo because she’s seen the notification. All that’s left to do is tense up and decide you can never face her again. But if you do, you gotta play it REAL cool, bro. You’ll be more careful next time. Maybe.
When You Didn’t Understand What They Said So You Say “What?” Too Many Times, Then Just Decide to Nod in Agreement
You just asked the other person to repeat herself three times in a row. We all know that’s the limit. If we don’t catch it in three, that’s on us, and now we have to put on the performance of our lives by pretending we know how to respond appropriately. You can’t go full-on smile, but you don’t think you need to feign sadness either, so you have to stick with a friendly, middle-of-the-road nod and hope this moment passes quickly.
When a Driver Waved to You So You Think You Can Cross But Then He Keeps Driving
There’s an international signal for “You may cross in front of my vehicle now,” and we all know it. The driver raises one of her hands and swipes it to the right. Easy peasy. But here’s where it gets awkward, and we don’t know what to do with our lives–when the driver gives you the sign, you wait for a second too long to start walking, so they start driving again. Those seconds between them signaling and us walking is a mystery the world may never solve.
When You Have Two Friends You Really Like So You Assume They’ll Like One Another Too
This awkward moment has happened to us all. We have two friends we met from different places. Naturally, we think it would be great to get our two friends together, so we can all become one big, happy friend group. Halfway through the hangout, your friends start looking at you with disdain. “Why do you even like this person?” You can see they’re both questioning your judgment, in general. Then you wonder if they’re second-guessing their love for you. This was a bad idea. You decide never to bring the disparate pieces of your life together again.