There are so many things that separate and divide us—politics, religion, favorite flavors of ice cream—that it can sometimes seem impossible that human beings are capable of getting along at all! Society, suddenly, seems on the precipice of constantly breaking down. However, there is one thing that deeply unites humanity—awkward moments.
Hear me out. It’s those moments when you tell someone ‘hi’ without them saying anything back, having your stomach rumble in public, or forgetting an acquaintance’s name (it’s way too late to ask them now!) that truly gets all of us cringing in embarrassment. Reddit users have been sharing these super awkward situations that everyone can relate to in a viral thread, so we’ve picked out the best of the best for you to enjoy, dear Pandas. Upvote the awkward moments that you’ve been in and share your own in the comments.
Meanwhile, I reached out to Vanessa Bohns, an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Cornell University and the author of the forthcoming book 'You Have More Influence Than You Think,’ to learn more about the embarrassment that we feel in awkward situations and how's it's got its upsides. Check out her full interview with Bored Panda below, dear Pandas.
When you start to tell a story in a group but in middle of sentence realize that no one is actually listening and ever so slowly you get quiet and hope no one took notice.
When you've had multiple interactions with someone but you can't remember their name but it's gone too far to admit you've forgotten it so you just have to call them love or mate forever.
When you’re having a conversation with someone and you don’t hear what they say so you ask them to repeat and they do. But you still don’t hear it and ask them to repeat again and they do. And you still don’t know what they said. Do you ask them to repeat again (and maybe still not hear it)? Pretend you heard it and nod your head and hope it’s an appropriate response? Stab yourself in the eye with a pen to create a diversion and change the subject?
Vanessa, from Cornell University, actually had some good news for us—being embarrassed (and not hiding it!) can actually help us connect with people much better. Hopefully, it’ll convince you to embrace blushing, feeling embarrassed, and being in awkward situations.
“Displaying signs of mild embarrassment can actually be socially constructive and make people feel more sympathetic towards you in the face of your faux pas,” Vanessa told Bored Panda that embarrassment (arising from whatever social situation we might be in) can actually be the perfect opportunity to strengthen your relationship to the people around you.
When you try to contribute to a conversation and someone cuts you off multiple times.
When you're next in line at the grocery store with your mom and she leaves you to "just get one more thing" and the anxiety and awkwardness builds because you're up and she's nowhere to be found.
“I don’t necessarily think you need to take pains to hide it,” the expert added that we ought to avoid running away from our embarrassment or pretending that you’re not feeling like you’re feeling. If we avoid these feelings, our social capital is likely to crash.
Meanwhile, embracing the awkwardness, embarrassment, and cringe tends to make us more accepted by others because they value our honesty.
Standing there while two people talk about something you don't know about.
When you think someone waves at you so you wave back, but they were waving at someone behind you.
Walking through a doorway only to catch your clothes on the handle and have it slingshot you backwards.
However, there is something that we should be aware of and that’s not letting our embarrassment turn to shame. A healthy dose of blushing and awkward mumbling is fine, but deep-seated shame is problematic in the long run.
“What you want to be careful not to do is to let embarrassment morph into the more destructive self-conscious emotion of shame, where you feel so badly about a minor mistake that you start to think there is something wrong with you and feel the need to completely disappear and hide away yourself,” Vanessa said to Bored Panda.
So go on, dear Readers! Go get yourself stuck in awkward situations. Feel the full burn of embarrassment and get closer to other people. Just remember not to let shame overtake you, ever.
When you're walking on a sidewalk with 2 other friends and you're the person that does not fit so you have to stay behind them.
When you swallow water wrong and it turns to a coughing fit in 2020.
You ever clogged a toilet in somewhere that wasn't your house.
When you're walking and almost trip for no reason and look back at the invisible stick that you tripped on.
When you walk out of the store empty handed, feeling like you've just stole something.
When you’re saying goodbye to someone, and then you both end up walking in the same direction.
Or when you turn and walk into a wall with people watching.
Saying “hello” or “how are you” to somebody and getting 100% ignored.
When someone sits beside you in metro or bus when there are hundreds of seats available.
Having your stomach rumble in the middle of a quiet class/meeting.
Bumping into an inanimate object and apologizing to it.
When you're finishing up at the checkout and the cashier puts the notes on top of the receipt and then coins on top of that. Then the next person steps up and you're fumbling, trying to disassemble the stack in your hand, gather your shopping, say thanks and move away at the same time.
When you're walking behind someone that has a slightly slower pace than you, so you start to pass them, but then have that awkward moment when you're walking next to them before you cut in front of them.
When you hold the door for someone but realize that they're actually kinda far away so they have to do the awkward skipping thing and you feel awful.
When you reply to a stranger who says hello, but then realize they were on the phone and not speaking to you. Happened to me just yesterday and I didn't get any sleep last night as I couldn't stop reliving the moment.
Not hearing what the other person said, so you just nod and smile, praying it wasn't a question.
When you're walking past coworker and you've already said hello earlier. Everyone's making that weird flat smile.
Coming out of a public toilet after laying a beast and there is someone waiting to go in the cubicle.
When you run out of things to say during a conversation and you’re not quite sure how to end it.
When someone says words incorrectly like "expecially" but it's rude to correct them because they're a stranger, or your boss, or your new girlfriend's/boyfriend's parents... but you're dying inside.
When you start a story and it gets interrupted a bunch of times so that what was an amazing story with a kicka*s finish/punchline is instead just a waste of time now.
Being at a friends house as a kid and the friend's mother starts yelling at your friend.
Being at a friends house as a kid and the friend's father walks in only wearing underwear.
Someone showing everyone in the group something on their phone and waiting until it is your turn.
Being expected to make polite conversation while having a gynecological exam. There you are, p*ssy exposed, legs spread wide, someone is stuffing something up your vagina, and you are expected to be able to talk about the weather.
Go to wash your hands and the water comes out at a thousand miles an hour, splashing your crotch. You are of course, at work.