The Importance of Being Awkward

Long, long ago, my grandpa told me not to let people call me a genius. I never understood why being called a genius was such a bad thing. I like to study, and being noted for my smarts is much better than being termed “dummy,” isn’t it?

It’s taken years, but I think I might have figured it out. If naming something is tantamount to defining it, deciding what its value is, then grandpa’s advice makes some sense. I don’t want to be simply smart. I don’t want to be boxed in by the expectations that accompany the label “genius”–in fact, I have a propensity for using words like “um” and “howdy” when I speak, not to mention my frequent use of contractions. Besides, I can’t do rocket science or advanced math, so how much of a genius could I possibly be?

Ironically, while I’ve successfully evaded the “genius” label (for the most part, maybe, certain individuals insist on calling me one–probably because it makes them feel less defeated when I beat their pants at scrabble. They can justify their loss by my prowess–if I was “normal,” they would have beat me [ha]) I seem to have stumbled head-on into another one: awkward.

I’m not exactly sure how small talk works. The other day, when somebody asked me how I was doing, I told them “no,” because I was still stuck in  another conversation and the correct answer (“great, how are you?”)  evaded me. I then had to explain myself, with further awkwardness. Oh, the tangled webs awkward people weave, when they first, awkwardly begin to speak.

Still and all, I’m pretty sure this term is a distortion, an odd return of a certain, specific label that has been repressed (ehem, “genius”). Isn’t awkwardness–social awkwardness–a sign of genius? Answer honestly. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen Shelden on Big Bang Theory.

Maybe my nerdy, bookwormy side is just something that shouldn’t be suppressed. I can’t avoid it. It must be expressed. So, FYI, If I’m wearing a badge that says “genius” next time you see me, it may not be a sign of egomania. I may be advertising my social awkwardness.

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