Everyone feels awkward now and then. Teenagers feel awkward when texting their crush. Kids feel awkward on their very first day of school. Adults feel awkward during that important job interview. It's normal.
But it doesn't feel normal.
My mental health journey is full of awkwardness and feeling "different". It took years of this to see that being awkward isn't a character flaw, but simply a manifestation of anxiety and depression. Being neurodivergent doesn't mean there is something wrong with me, but rather that I see the world in a unique way, and that's totally fine.
It didn't always feel that way.
I remember this nagging feeling, even as a little girl, like there was a wall between myself and others. A feeling that I was seeing something that others weren't. I remember feeling like I couldn't quite connect with people. I could go through the motions with social niceties, but still rarely find a sense of camaraderie with my peers. I was always the kid who actually did the reading for English, the kid who built a little nook in which to make art, the kid who was excited to discuss the subject that made everyone else groan in annoyance.
This feeling only got worse with age. By the time I was in my junior year of high school, I would find myself constantly feeling like something was wrong with me. I would break down crying and not be able to articulate the reason why, which only made me cry harder in frustration. I would find myself agonizing over every little faux pas, thinking that I was a faux pas.
Years of therapy, experimenting with different cocktails of medication, and falling on my face a few times taught me a lesson that I carry with me to this day: my brain might function a little differently, but that doesn't mean I am unlovable or unworthy of being loved. It doesn't mean that I am forever defined by a condition. I am a person with depression and anxiety, not a depressed or anxious person. This distinction is small, but it's critically important. The person comes before the adjective.
And if the person comes first, that means that it matters more. I matter. You matter. We all matter. There is nothing wrong with having emotions, even if they're intense. There's nothing wrong with crying during a Disney movie or laughing hysterically at a meme at 2 in the morning (except maybe annoying your roommates). There is nothing wrong with being who you are.
*Make sure to tune into The Crispy Soul Podcast, where we go more into depth on this topic, available on all major streaming apps