Little known fact that you won't learn from Merriam-Webster: The word "awkwardsauce" was invented by people like me, for people like me. You'll know us when you see us. We are chewing on our shirt sleeves and talking to ourselves in public and apologizing to inanimate objects that we run into on the street—and that's just on an ordinary day. When we are nervous, we somehow defy all the odds of human normalcy and become so, so much worse.
Honestly, it is a miracle if I can complete a full, grammatically correct sentence in a pitch that doesn't make dogs cry when I'm nervous. It doesn't help that I'm constantly putting myself in nerve-wracking situations: Between meeting new people and going out on auditions and the bimonthly job interviews that followed college graduation, I have been a train wreck pretty much ever since I can remember. I suppose this state of being is a nice step up from when I was younger when I would get so nervous that I couldn't talk. No, seriously, noise wouldn't even come out of my mouth. So I'm doing better but there is definitely room for improvement. If you also happen to be an excruciatingly weird person whenever you're nervous, then you will hardcore relate to these struggles I endure on a regular basis:
Your first impression game is not so strong
The first thing someone notices about me is usually whichever body part is twitching the most. The second thing they notice is that my face is stretched out into some manic configuration I am desperately hoping passes for a "smile."
Everyone thinks you're in a perpetual state of needing to pee
And can you blame them? You cross and uncross your legs as often as you blink.
Or they assume you're ridiculously cold
You frequently apologize for no reason
We are told to never apologize in auditions. Even if we hack up a lung, screltch like Idina singing "Let It Go" on New Year's Eve, or spontaneously vomit, we are told to never apologize. But it's like a switch in my brain that I can't turn off, and it applies to all other social situations as well. As soon as I've done something I perceive as slightly awkward, I apologize and thereby magnify the situation and actually make it awkward, for which I deserve some kind of Failing At Life award.
You deafen people with your laugh
You know how they say insecure people overcompensate with flashy cars and humble-bragging every chance they get? Awkward people overcompensate by laughing at everything, and doing it at the top of our damn lungs. To be fair, I really do laugh a lot regardless of whether I am nervous, because I am very easily impressed, but when I'm nervous, it's like an air strike.
You're always trying to compensate by looking really nice
You never sound confident about ideas even when you really are
It's one thing to feel really invested in an idea that you think has the potential to be great, but it's a whole other feat to be able to talk about that idea with a straight face in a tone that registers your confidence in it. For some reason, the more nervous I get, the more likely I am to preface something with, "This sounds stupid, but," or, "this might totally not work, but," which is basically how I've introduced the plot to any fiction story I ever wrote or thought about writing. And how can you expect anyone to be confident in your idea if even you sound unsure?
Nobody thinks you are a competent human being
Your pit stains magnify from all the stress
As a person who already suffers from hyperhidrosis (which basically means I sweat a ton even if I'm just sitting all day. WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE.), stressful situations are like carnivals for my sweat glands, who celebrate by working tenfold.
People mistake your excitement for fear
You never really know exactly much you've freaked someone out
Normal humans: They are much better at hiding their pure, unadulterated horror than we are. So I frequently walk away from stressful situations not knowing if the person took my awkwardness in stride and saw the flicker of human intelligence beneath it, or if they are calling a locksmith to change their keys on the off-chance that I could possibly gain access to their place of living.
When you start acting normal, people are really confused
Of course, there is always a sunrise after the storm, when your truer, slightly less insane self joins the party. This usually results in people being both boggled and a little relieved by the sudden shift. Bless these people who put up with our crazy lollipop outer shells before biting through to the normal Tootsie Roll centers (and for putting up with our weird metaphors about candy).