GOODMAN: The awkward moments we all have in common

Yesterday, I hugged a random person. No, not on purpose. The way she wiggled out of my embrace, I was convinced she was a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. It was only after she turned around with a very concerned look on her face that I realized I had accidentally groped a complete stranger.

Even worse, the cloud of awkwardness hanging over us made it impossible to explain what had happened, so I ended up just briskly walking away, making an awkward situation even worse.

I saw that girl three more times yesterday.

We all know that these types of situations happen on a daily basis – they’re uncomfortable, embarrassing and, if you’re like me, will result in your face turning 50 shades of red.

The only comfort in these occurrences, however, is that they happen to everyone. That time you started having a conversation with someone approaching on the sidewalk as they were actually talking to the person behind you is just one example of these unfortunate events.

Below is a list of some of my personal favorites, so next time one of these awkward moments happens to you, you might not feel so alone.

1. Waiting for a machine when the downstairs cardio rooms at the Rec Center are full:

Each time you casually glance into the rooms, everyone on the machines just stares back at you with a look of, “No, I’m not done yet, and because you keep checking on me, I’m going to add 10 minutes to my workout.”

It’s even worse when someone else is waiting as well. You sit on opposite couches and keep nervously peeking at the two rooms. Small talk is not an option – this person is your competition. As soon as someone walks out of a room it’s a sprint to obtain the newly vacant machine first, and the winner hides her or his victory smile.

2. Reading the Human Sexuality textbook in public:

For those who haven’t taken this psychology course, let me just say one thing about the required textbook – don’t eat before reading.

Regardless of how comfortable you are with the topic of sex, this situation still gets weird. It’s like, turn the page – BAM – penis; turn the page – BAM – penis affected by an STI. Sorry for the graphic image there, but you get the point.

Try opening that thing up in the library.

3. Elevator rides with one other person:

First, elevators are tiny and make people feel claustrophobic. Second, they cause internal battles over whether to initiate conversation or simply listen to the bad elevator music. Every time I step into an elevator I think about the Tower of Terror. Am I supposed to bring that up?

What about standing position? Are you supposed to stand near the front? The back? Equal to the other person in the elevator? Cram yourself into the back corner so there’s no chance of reaching for a floor button at the same time? You could always take out your phone and pretend to talk to someone, but then again, that might be rude.

4. When a new check-out line at the grocery store opens up:

Everything freezes except you and the other shoppers in line. Who will be the first person in the new lane? Should it be you, who have been waiting for 10 minutes behind the lady with two full carts’ worth of food? Or will it be the person who just then strolled up to the end of the line? You all move for the other line – it’s an awkward and potentially anger-inducing dance.

So when you’re waiting to check out after shopping for Thanksgiving next week, just go for it when that new line opens up. It’ll save everyone else the confusion.

5. Trying to get over someone you weren’t even dating:

We all crush on people from afar, whether it’s a celebrity, someone in class or that person who sits at the same table in the library each night. We’ve also all had those relationships that almost reached “official” but got stopped dead in their tracks.

It’s the battle of expectations vs. reality. We build up hope and convince ourselves something is possible – even a feat like marrying Ryan Gosling – only to eventually be crushed.

The awkward part is when the person we’re trying to get over doesn’t know it, or that we even exist. Or when someone asks why you’re so down and you’d seem like a stalker by being honest. Or you could always try tweeting passive aggressive things about love in hopes that said crush will see them, feel bad and eventually come running into your arms.

It’s OK, though, because everyone does it, and so many things in life are awkward. You’re not alone – we’re all in this embarrassing world together.

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