When I sat down to write this post about my number one fear – awkwardness, I realized I accidentally wrote an awkward title. Quelch is a word of antiquity and only appears in unabridged dictionaries according to Grammarist.
Quelch is possibly a shortened version of squelch, but it’s definition definitely exemplifies what I want to “put down or suppress forcibly.” (Grammarist)
I want to quelch awkward. Why?
Because it often paralyzes me. I don’t know if you can relate, but let me take you into my head for a few minutes.
I’m a classic introvert, which means I live in my head way more than I should. The problem of introverts is that we don’t often say what we rehearsed.
Yes, I rehearse what I’m going to say. Even for a simple phone call to a hotel to see if they allow pets.
And you know what happens? It often comes out wrong.
It sounds harsh or too exuberant or too much.
I sound like I’m trying to yell at the Fedex lady on the phone. No, I’m just trying to get the words out right.
And how do I know I’m on the brink of awkward?
No reaction from the room. Shifting eyes. Flustered words. Losing my train of thought.
Ugh, that’s a hard place to be.
Awkward puts me on display. It gives people a look at my inside insecurity.
I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to speak up about something in a group situation.
I fear awkwardly interrupting someone. I fear the conversation steering in a different direction as I rush to add my detail. I fear that I might come across as aloof or brash.
That’s why I look for pockets of people – two or three. It’s more my speed. I can be less on display and less anxious. I can speak more slowly before the tide turns. I don’t know about you, but it seems like conversations slip out of my hands faster than a handful of sand.
The thing I wanted to say often goes unsaid. And that’s hard when you think you had something to add to a conversation or to a person’s life.
Something I’ve never told anyone is that I used to read manuals on how to be cool or popular or well-mannered. I often did it in the guise of a novel. There are some great ones out there to tell you how to be something.
I’ve read at least 100 self-help type books. I absolutely love this genre of writing. I love to hear how people overcome adversity, absurdity and rejection.
Awkward often disguises itself as fear of rejection. That’s really the root of the problem. We all want to be accepted. We all want to be adored. We all want to be welcomed and to be recognized on more than a surface level with our fellow humans.
I’ve struggled to get beyond that surface level for most of my life. You can ask my husband. Very few people know me very well. It’s a defense from wanting to invest in people, but getting to a familiar place – awkward.
I really struggle in this area – to find friendship with others that’s authentic and awesome.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
My post on mommies needing more than playdates was one of my most popular because it addressed the elephant in the room.
Women are seeking friendship with other women, who I imagine are awkward underneath it all just like the rest of us wallflowers pretending not to be.
So, now that I exposed the awkward in my life, how do we quench it?
I began this process about two years ago. Here’s what I did and still do every day to make this fear a tiny thorn in my side.
I started focusing on truth.
Whose truth? His truth. I put scripture in my heart, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works. And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14
That verse called out to my soul and to the example I was setting for my daughter. When my daughter got beyond the toddler years, I noticed how quickly that “Am I good enough” question popped into her life.
I know full well that the opinion I have of myself is the opinion she will develop for herself. I knew I had to grow some roots of security in this area if I were going to raise her to be a confident and unashamed woman.
Here are a few of my favorite verses on worth as a woman – Romans 8:28, 31-32 & 38-39 (really this entire chapter is gold) Philippians 4:13, Psalm 46:1, Hebrews 13:6.
I started a prayer journal.
Words are my soul food. After I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I started writing my prayers like the main character Aibileen. She said she wrote her prayers to stay smart.
She also said this of prayer: “Cause that’s the way prayer do. It’s like electricity, it keeps things going.” (The Help, Kathryn Stockett)
I also read a great little book called God Uses Cracked Pots by Patsy Clairmont. She tells a tale where she had to start writing her prayers because her mind would wander to her grocery list or the dust under the china cabinet. My mind wanders to tasks and the long list of awkward things I’ve said or done and far away from the heart of the matter I’m praying about. Writing brings me clarity.
I started this blog.
I realized a little more than two years ago that it’s not that I can’t communicate well, but it’s that I don’t necessarily communicate like everyone else. I communicate better when I have time to process my thoughts.
After I wrote a letter to my hubby that I believe was the catalyst for saving us from a dark place in our marriage, I published it on this blog.
I’d stayed up really late writing him a letter about why I was right. I prayed through this selfish letter and then realized that the breakthrough we needed was a better way of communication. So, I wrote him a letter that gave him an insight into why I needed him in my life and what he’s done for me. It was an act of repentance and I know the Holy Spirit was in the room with me when I wrote it.
The response to that letter showed me that I had a mission field. I’d been writing for a long time, but the writing I did was for other people and their agendas.
This blog is about sharing what God has done in my life. And apparently it blesses others. To Him be the glory. I’m just living out 1 Peter 4:10 in every post I share. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
I take a spiritual audit.
I notice that when I let awkward take grip of me, it’s usually because I’m not dedicating my time to focusing on God’s truth or I’m getting too caught up in some circumstance or I’m avoiding a difficult conversation.
So, I have this section of my prayer journal where I wrote my kingdom assignment down. I even made pages for what that means for each member of the flock for which God has assigned me to serve and love.
I revisit this purpose for living and make a recommitment to my husband, my children and my Savior of that purpose. I have to do this a lot sometimes.
I also love to revisit the sections of my prayer journal where I prayed through something hard. (I organize it by topic and give each day a title.) This often leads to a look at answered prayers and a renewal in my soul.
I find someone else to serve.
Sometimes serving your family can be overwhelming and it seems like you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle.
So, when I’m feeling particularly awkward with myself, I think about someone I need to reach out to.
I pray for them and call or text them to see if there’s something I can do to bless their life. Sometimes it’s a random act of kindness that I involve the kids in. We have so much fun planning these. Sometimes it’s just a card in the mail.
This is probably my favorite way to quelch awkward because awkward wants you alone in your own head. That’s no place for a loved daughter of God to live. She’s to live in freedom and truth.
I hope a view inside my head and how I get out of it blesses you a little today. May God bless you!