i'm an awkward penguin

One of my biggest weaknesses, one that has always shamed me, is that I have always been lonely. I’ve struggled to make friends because I can be socially awkward, because I’m weird, because I live in my head.
— roxane gay, bad feminist

I took a class yesterday ... Intro to Relief Printing.

class by the wonderfull sunny mullarkey

class by the wonderfull sunny mullarkey

It was fun to practice a new skill. I found this type of art making far more physical than I expected it to be and the process of identifying the negative space is challenging for me. I left with mad respect for the medium and for the work of the teacher, Sunny Mullarkey. 

I also left with the reminder that I am an awkward penguin. ( thanks to a nameless friend who first described herself as such ... I get it) Just like Roxane Gay, I am socially awkward, weird, and I live in my head. 

Small talk and chatter are not my forte. I can engage in hours of one on one conver sation about life and love and learning and what makes us laugh. I just can't stand to put words out there in the midst of people that I don't know just for the sake of putting words out there. Sitting in silence is not uncomfortable for me except in social situations that require the exchange of words. 

I have words, lots of words. Maybe too many words. They are all here in my head, constantly swirling, providing a perpetual playground for me to wander. I am never lonely because I have the words in my head. I am content there. Until I remember that I must emerge from time to time. Be with the people. 

How do you do that? How do you make the transition from that inner landscape to the present environment? That is what I find most difficult. How could I tell you what I've been thinking? It would be a fire hose of words and still you probably wouldn't understand and instead you would think, "Where did that all come from? All I wanted to know is your name and what brings you here today?" 

So I stay quiet even though I know it means that I appear aloof, shy, snobby. 

When I am working on something creative, I pull even more inward. I have a group of women who gather at my house on a regular basis. It is our creative play date. We have dinner together and then take to the studio for some side by side creating. I've noticed that I rarely create with them. Instead, I try to make sure they have what they need. Taking care of them is an act of love and friendship. If I were to engage in my own creative process during that time, I would enter into my own little world, not seeing them or hearing them. 

My internal creative process means that I am not made for classroom environments. I want to listen, observe, and then I want to go learn by myself. Make my own mistakes, learn from them, figure out what works and what doesn't, try and try again. That is not to say that I didn't enjoy this class and learn from this class. I did and I will probably explore more here at home on my own. However, I am painfully aware of how quiet and awkward I was. 

But why be painfully aware of my awkwardness? Why not celebrate it? Why not declare with absolute joy, "I am an awkward penguin!" It doesn't make me wrong or less than. In fact, while looking for a quote for this post, I found tons of quotes from celebrities talking about their own awkwardness.

Maybe awkward is the new normal?