7 Horrifyingly Awkward Moments We All Encounter

Awkwardness happens– more frequently for some than others (guilty). It’s painful in the moment, but often laughable when we look back on that uncomfortable situation.

The thing is, these things never truly go away– no matter how hard we try. Awkward will find its way into our day-to-day lives. It’s quite unavoidable.

That’s okay! We live with it, and we chuckle about it later. If nothing else, these moments give us awesome stories to share.

Let’s review some of the best hilariously awkward moments that we all tend to experience.

#1 Realizing midway through your story that it’s going nowhere fast

So, you start to tell this story, or wait, it’s like an anecdote, and — wait — you forgot this detail… but anyways, it was really funny when it happened, and uh… hah… yeah.

We’ve all been there. You begin talking about something that is super funny or fascinating in your head– but as you actually get into telling it, you realize that it’s perhaps the worst story ever or that you can’t get a hold on the right details.

But you’re in too deep. You feel like you have to finish it, because it’s the lesser of two awkwards… and you sadly look up at the glazed-over eyes of your friend/coworker/significant other/etc.

You’re reminded how much of a human you are– but maybe we all need that sometimes.

#2 Being an innocent bystander to a nearby argument/confrontation

Holy cats. This is among the most uncomfortable flavors of awkward.

You find yourself in the presence of a heated, personal discussion that’s unfolding. Sometimes the option to flee and find cover just isn’t available (family gatherings, anyone?).

So, you sit there and lower your eyes. You check your phone. You wonder how precisely you’re supposed to act to this sensitive conversation… that actually you feel intrusive for listening to, despite having no choice in the matter.

The thing to remember– it’s not your fault that you have to hear this. The people in that heated discussion are responsible for making their matters ‘public.’

#3 Seeing (from afar) someone you know, and that long weird walk to approach them

We’re not talking someone you would just pretend to not see because you hardly know them (because hey, I think most of us are guilty of that sometimes). No, it happens with someone you know decently enough to feel compelled to at least exchange a passing “hi” with.

It’s that thing where you see the person, but you’re not sure when to begin making eye contact and acknowledging each other. Too quickly, and you’re staring someone down intensely down a long corridor. Too late, and you look like a jerk who’s ignoring them. If only there were a rule for this one.

#4 Not knowing how to act around a not-quite-acquaintance

Sometimes you encounter someone who went to your high school, who you met one time at a party, who is a friend of a friend, what have you… and you’re not sure what the appropriate course of action is.

Do you give them a “what’s up?” or would that be too weird? Do they even remember your face? Is your loose point of connection too far gone to even be relevant anymore?

That’s one of those things that is difficult to rationalize… especially when you only have a few seconds to decide how to act.

#5 Having to abruptly turn around mid-walk

You’re walking confidently to your destination. Suddenly, you realize that you need to backtrack. You forgot something, you passed your destination– the reason doesn’t matter.

The point is, now you have to do a walking version of a u-turn and try to look semi-normal.

It’s difficult to pull off gracefully. People generally do one of two things:

A) Make an effort to look completely self-assured (I totally didn’t just do that!)

B) Actively try to look like you’re overwhelmingly confused in hope that people will realize you dun’ goofed, and they understand what you just did there

#6 Smiling and nodding when you’ve concluded that asking “what?” for the fifth time is unreasonable

It’s amazing how often this happens. Sometimes you get tripped up on a seemingly made-up word someone says, other times they’re an unreasonably low talker.

“What? … Sorry, what? … I’m really sorry..? … One more time?”

The worst. And you both feel like idiots. You decide to spare yourself and the other person additional embarrassment by giving up. Hopefully a pleasant/knowing nod will suffice?

#7 The habitual tidbits of conversation that sometimes just… get messed up.

A nonsensical remark you seem to make out of pure reflex. You are so used to having these preloaded responses that you sometimes use them in the completely wrong manner.

Here’s a common example:

“Hey, how are you?”

“Pretty good, you?”

“Not too shabby, yourself?”

“…Pretty good”

Another common one is tagging on a “You too!” when it’s not something that even remotely applies to the other person:

“Happy 21st Birthday, little buddy!”

“You too!”

These sayings are so instinctual that we often say them without thinking. Luckily, it tends to be more immediately funny than embarrassing.


Maggie is a music junkie, movie enthusiast, and a lover of useless knowledge. Her professional interests are technical writing, editing, grant writing, and extreme Scrabble playing… if that were a thing, of course.