Why TikTokers Want You To Embrace Your Cringe
Nothing is embarrassing.
Everyone has a different definition of cringe. For some, you’re cringe if you laugh too loud, try too hard at your hobby, or dance with abandon in a public place while filming a TikTok. Cringe is embarrassing, and it’s something you’re supposed to avoid at all costs for the sake of fitting in. But what if you didn’t care?
Folks on TikTok are leaning into the cringiest parts of themselves as a way to fully embrace their awkward side. “Embrace the cringe” has over 24 million views on the app, and the message is basically this: Nothing’s actually embarrassing. If you allow yourself to be cringe, it almost supersedes shame. Not only do you get to feel more authentic, but people tend to react differently when you fully accept yourself. That’s why it’s also a way to shed bad friends — aka the ones who don’t appreciate your full self.
While embracing your cringe is way easier said than done, it’s super refreshing that it’s an option — and a popular one at that. It’s about recognizing that you don’t have to feel embarrassed or awkward nearly as often as you think. Here’s why.
Embracing Your Cringe
“Finding yourself and knowing who you are can really be about experimenting with different experiences,” Gabriella Giachin, LMSW, a therapist with New York City Psychotherapy Collective, tells Bustle. “Being afraid to do that because of fear of judgment and fear of being cringe can hold you back from really engaging in and embracing your true self.” It’s why it’s OK to be bad at a hobby, experiment with fashion, or try something new and fail.
No one’s paying that much attention anyway — they’re all concerned with what they’re doing. If you trip on the sidewalk or get caught listening to your most uncool playlist, chances are no one will notice, remember, or care. And if they do, they aren’t for you.
A cringe-y life is a fun life — and it can also bring good things your way. TikTok creator @sarahgullix talks about embracing her cringe all the way into the modeling field. As a kid, she’d do “cringeworthy” photoshoots because she wanted to be a model. People would laugh, but, by not letting other people’s opinions hold her back, she found herself in her dream career.
Who knows — being your authentic self might even inspire someone else. “There’s a much more common dialogue about normalizing the differences in each individual and the negative impacts of alienating other people for their interests,” Giachin says. “This dialogue, both online and in person, has helped people be able to embrace the parts of themselves and their interests that they may have previously hidden or suppressed.”
Of course, if you decide to stop caring about what others think, you do run the risk of rejection, Giachin says. It’s why you might not be your full cringe self at work or on a first date. But there’s something to be said for flying your cringe flag so that others can flock to it.
“When risking rejection, you’re creating space for people who will truly embrace you and accept you for who you are, and it therefore fosters truer, more genuine friendships where you can find support in all areas of life,” she says. Reason number 5,386 to be more cringe: You might just find your people.
Go ahead and post that unhinged meme. Allow yourself to learn how to skateboard, even though you’re probably going to eat it on the sidewalk. Wear the colorful outfit you’ve been planning and walk down the street without a care. If anyone reacts, so what? As creator @clotildademauro says, “Let them f*cking cringe.”