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The Gift of an Awkward Moment

By Linda Buck, CSJ

In the United States, we have a day for everything…popcorn day, hug a turtle day…and today is Awkward Moments Day. What a silly and awkward day to celebrate or to bring attention. We want to shove away, put behind us, ignore these awkward moments. Or do we? Is there a gift in these awkward or embarrassing moments?


Well, I think it is fair to say that when they are happening, they do not feel like a gift. However, I’m wondering if this is because we are often caught in a narrative of how something should be – how we should be? Is the narrative surrounded by a theme of perfectionism? This perfectionism is about expectations, and it demands a flawless performance in life. I think this all gets notched up tenfold when someone is a leader. Think about what our social norms tell us about this as well. In the United States, there is an image of what is correct. I’m sure every culture has this to some degree. Then we overlay a religious narrative of holiness.


I’m already tired just thinking about it. This is a lot of energy to use to make sure we are flawlessly performing in life. It will just keep taking up more and more energy because life is not flawless. We are human. Life is complicated and messy.


Can we laugh with each other (not at someone) to help us embrace our awkward moments, embrace our less-than-flawless self? Can we fully accept our humanity and know that life is about making mistakes, doing funny things, laughing at ourselves, and learning as we continue in this wonderful thing called life? What would happen if we embraced this way as a leader? I recall the line from poet Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  This life is a gift, and our embarrassing and awkward moments are gifts to remind us of our full humanity.


Another day is coming up on April 14th – International Moment of Laughter Day. This day is a reminder to laugh every day. Laughter brings expansive energy that creates more energy. Perfectionism contracts and depletes energy. Let’s laugh!


And, in case you have a turtle, Hug a Turtle Day is May 23rd.


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