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Why You Need to Embrace the Awkward if You Want to Experience the Awesome

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Yesterday, I read this beautiful post on Why We Should Stop Living a Safe Life. And I so agree.

But here’s the thing: stepping outside your comfort zone and taking risks isn’t usually glamorous business.

I think we sometimes idealize and fantasize what risk-taking will be like.

We picture wild adventures. Thrilling exploits. Amazing feats. While that is often some of what happens, there’s usually a whole lot of awkward and hard work in between.

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Lisa-Jo and I experienced that last week. We had such a great trip, but I can guarantee you that every minute was not filled with incredible mountain-top experiences.

In fact, in between all the wonderful things, there was also a fair share of sweat, dirt, vomit, and tears involved. I’m learning that’s part of the whole stepping-outside-your-comfort-zone gig.

One very wise piece of advice Lisa-Jo gave me before we embarked on the trip was this, “It’s going to feel awkward at times. That’s okay. In fact, that’s more than okay. That’s normal.”

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There were a lot of awkward moments on the trip last week…

There were many times (especially at first) when I couldn’t understand someone’s accent. After asking them to repeat themselves three times and you still didn’t understand, it was hard to know what to do or say.

There were multiple times when I replied with the completely wrong thing because I thought they were talking about something entirely different. (South Africans and Americans both speak English, but the words and phrases often mean different things.)

There were times when all the kids and adults were dancing their hearts out singing a song that I didn’t know the words or hand motions to. Not to mention the fact that I’m not really the dancing type of person! 🙂

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There were times when I could tell that the person I was talking to didn’t have any idea what I was saying because they couldn’t understand my accent or American phrases.

There were times when I would start speaking in English to someone only to realize they didn’t understand English (most South Africans speak English, but there are a small minority of those who don’t).

There were times when I was given food to eat that was very different than anything I was used to.

There were times when it seemed everyone else knew what was going on and I didn’t have a clue.

There were times when a child would do or say something that broke your heart so much you could barely hold in the tears.

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Yes, there was a lot of awkwardness mixed in with the trip. There were many times when I didn’t know what to do, say, or be.

But if I had chosen to avoid those awkward moments, I would have missed out on so many awesome moments. Moments that were goose-bump-inducing and incredibly amazing.

And so I encourage you: stop playing it safe. Step out. Step up. Jump out. Take risks.

It will be awkward, tiring, exhausting, and monotonous at times. But don’t let that hold you back.

Embrace the awkward and you’ll get to experience the awesome.

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  • Elizabeth says:

    I was just thinking about this yesterday! Just how we all like to stay in our comfort zones and how we need to move out of them.

  • Kelli says:

    Yep, a book I read lately.. I think it was Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist but I might be wrong.. talked about “getting awkward for Jesus.” We gotta be willing to be awkward sometimes to live out our faith. That is a TOUGH thing for an insecure introvert like myself. Good for you, Crystal!

  • Noreen says:

    I have been following your trip on the site.Please take a minute and go on youtube to view this Christian video.The artist is Big Daddy Weave,the song,video is Overwhelmed. It seems very much how you described your trip.

  • Courtney says:

    As someone who often feels awkward, I appreciated this post very much. Thanks!

  • Angie says:

    Yes! I went back to school recently for nursing. I am 36 and it is hard! There are little things like stepping into a classroom where I know no one and bigger things like talking to physicians who don’t have tons of patience with student nurses. I often feel awkward and out of my comfort zone. Yet… I know that this is God’s plan for me right now. I have already had experiences open up to me that are amazing. I know that I will serve God through nursing. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like yet. I am learning that the scary places are where the most growth occurs! Blessings to you as you process your trip. I look forward to see how this trip affects your life and ministry.

  • Jamie says:

    Love this! Embracing the awkward with humility is hard. But He’s worth it. I’m glad to hear the trip was great!

  • Heather says:

    Thank you!! This totally hit a cord for me today. God recently asked me to do something that will put me way out of my comfort zone over and over again but I also know that the rewards will be great. This has given me the courage to jump in and embrace the awkward.

  • Thank you, Crystal. You are exactly right. Jesus invited Peter to walk out on the water. He calls us to be salt and light. None of that is in our comfort zones, and we need to step out by faith.

    I’ve been on a new adventure in my life recently, and God is just helping me sooo much with it! Real life is outside the comfort zone! Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    The fact that you got to go on such a big, exciting trip, has a lot to do with the fact that you have stepped out of your comfort zone time and time again over the last many years.

    Your stick-to-it-tiveness and courage has had a positive impact on my life.

  • Jennifer says:

    “Embrace the awkward and you’ll get to experience the awesome.”

    Love, love that quote. I want it on a tee-shirt and a coffee mug and a sign for my desk. It’s so full of truth and it applies to so many different circumstances.

    My website is at such an awkward stage right now. It makes me cringe. But I’ve got to work through it. I can’t airbrush away this stage or I won’t make it to the awesome stage.

  • Beth says:

    You’re spot on. How often do I find myself thinking that once I answer the call..once I embrace God’s will…once I REALLY commit to God’s plan, that my life will be all hearts and rainbows and fuzzy bunnies.

    But. It’s. Not.

    It’s hard work. It’s humiliating. It’s frustrating.

    And yet, in that, I can also expect to find humility, joy, and hope.

    Thanks so much for this powerful reminder to stay the coarse and keep my eye on the prize.

  • Amanda says:

    I loved this post. I have been in cross cultural ministry for years and you are spot on with your observations about the awkward moments. We, as a family, have experienced so many of the things you mentioned. It is so worth it to see the Lord work in your heart and the hearts of those you meet. Thanks for sharing the awesome and the awkward!!

  • Vickie says:

    My problem is I relive those “awkward” moments over and over again. Although as I’ve gotten older not so much!

  • Amanda says:

    Crystal…Have you read the book “Draw the Circle” by pastor Mark Batterson?? It’s a wonderful read…a 40 day prayer challenge actually. He talks so much about prayer, stepping out on faith and also accepting God’s plan for our lives. I just started the book and after reading your posts, I was encouraged further about how God needs me to step out of my comfort zone…and into his zone! 😉

    What a great post. God Bless you and what you all are doing in Africa.

  • Kara Kroll says:

    Wow I see my friend from College Jonna in your pictures! So cool! I am so glad that you were able to go and enjoy your time there! I can’t believe in this huge world of ours how we can be connected!

    • How fun! We got to spend some time with Jonna and her family and see the work they are involved with there in South Africa. It was so inspiring!

      • Becky says:

        I also know Jonna and her family and was amazed when I came across your website on pinterest and started following your trip to South Africa that you would be at the exact same place I lived for a year! It truly is a small world and we are all connected through Christ which is really really neat! Thanks for sharing Crystal. Love the stories and pictures!

  • Kay says:

    Thank you for your posts on your trip…and also for linking back to Lisa Jo’s blog. I had never heard of her before, but because you linked to her I got to read up a little on her blog and her story…her story tugged at my heart and I ended up ordering the kindle version of her book and the Lord brought me much healing in my heart, taking away so much fear I’ve always had of being a mother….because though my mother is alive, she is very much emotionally absent. I have been able to forgive her in places of my heart that I didn’t know I still hurt. And I can think about being a mother someday with much less fear than I used to. So thank you very much, and I’m so glad you both got to share this South African journey together.

    If you know of any resources that can also help with accepting the season of life you’re in…I would appreciate it. I am recently married, and with that change came a transition from being employed to unemployed, and to switching to a church that is 100% different from what I’ve been used to and had grown to love. I’ve had a really hard time with the transitions. It may not even make any sense…I feel that I’m in God’s will for my life, however, it’s been very painful and difficult to walk through…If from this brief description you can think of something (article, blog, book, anything), I would appreciate it greatly.

    Thank you for your blog and for all you do!

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