“Everyone’s awkwardness shines a little brighter in an elevator.” Sammy Rhodes from his book, This Is Awkward: How Life’s Uncomfortable Moments Open the Door to Intimacy and Connection.
You and I can be standing side-by-side, but because we don’t know each other there is this expectation and understanding that we will ignore each other. I can be bold, say hello and interact, but you might not respond and …. that would be awkward.
In Sammy Rhodes enlightening and funny book, he encourages us to walk towards awkwardness and not away from it.
For me in 2016, it was about those nudges God gave me when there were people in my line of sight who needed help. Some of them I didn’t know so I had to introduce myself. It’s easy to connect with people you know. Or to help people who are your friends. It’s much trickier and riskier when they’re strangers. So awkward!
I think the highlight for me in walking towards awkward is the friendships I made and the courage it gave me to connect.
Awkward will always talk you out of connection — we fear rejection after all. Interestingly though, the more you move towards the thing; you think is awkward, the less awkward it becomes.
For me personally, praying and asking God to guide and direct me, to equip and enable me has been a massive part of that breakthrough. My story is filled with moments of knowing “that simply wasn’t me”. Because me on my own would have taken awkward at its word, and legged it.
In 2017, I don’t want to let my awkwardness shine in the elevator anymore. I want to make “elevator friends,” and I also want to make “sidewalk friends.” I think these are two places where the power of awkward challenges me daily. In 2016, I made “neighbor friends” with a street party. The idea to do that was awkward — the doing it, was awesome.
I want to encourage you to do the same. Make facing awkward your new thing. Remember, from The Anatomy of Peace, “You care whether you are being seen as a person or as an object. In fact, there is little you care more about than this.”
Next time we’re in an elevator and awkward tells us to look away, let’s instead turn our eyes to the other beside us and smile. There is no doubt this will feel awkward but no more awkward than staring straight ahead and pretending we don’t see each other.