How to Survive an Awkward Stage
Four of our most creative and inspiring friends reminisce about their own awkward stages (and the lessons they've learned).
The worst part about an awkward stage isn't the frizzy hair, unflattering glasses, annoying acne, or [add your own insecurity here]. It's that feeling that you're always going to be uncomfortable in your own skin; this "stage" will never end. But it will! And, speaking from experience, you'll be much better off for suffering through it. So while there may not be a real silver lining to adolescence, rest assured that even the most successful people had awkward stages—and they lived to tell the tale (and share their golden advice) below.
I was hella awkward and continue to be—my blog is literally named Awkward City—and it continues to be a definition of who I am: outspoken at all the wrong times, committed to unabashed honesty and living by my own set of social rules. Any weirdness you've got is simply the bud of a plant that will one day be a cool ass chick! Holy hell, use the internet to your advantage. Do you know how much Bat Mitzvah money I would have forked over to have tutorials on every makeup, hair, and styling look at my fingertips? You can truly fix any problem you have or question you need answered without having to default to asking the token cool girl at camp. Or, on the other hand, don't — you're currently in the midst of battling between what everyone else wants you to be and what you feel you are inside, so honor that truly, as messy and confusing and weird as it all can be. — Carlye Wisel, freelance writer
My peak awkward stage is, of course, immortalized in my Bat Mitzvah photos. Being 13 is rough! I had horribly overplucked eyebrows from secretly using my mom's tweezers and assuming she wouldn't notice the little tadpoles above my eyes, and braces (the silver kind with pink rubber bands), and glasses. It was a LOOK. I still have glasses though! Glasses are great. The best part about an awkward stage, or any stage, is it's just that—a stage. This is not your forever, though that doesn't make it any easier while you're going through it. Take comfort in knowing everyone else is feeling awkward too, even the people who you think are totally together, and that there is an end in sight. — Julia Rubin, features editor at Racked
I don't think that my awkward stage was awkward at all. Instead, it may have been the coolest and most independent I've ever been. That didn't make years 11 to 15 easy though, especially when I was obsessively teased over my tomboy appearance and "Squirrel Face," aka the large baby cheeks I've never grown out of. And maybe I wasn't by-the-book "pretty," but it was because I had fierce opinions about feminine ideals. I hated makeup; I refused to shave my legs and armpits, and I loved winning Geography Bee medals in my elastic-waist, zip-off pants. And as a science-obsessed kid, I knew that your "awkward phase" was kind of magical—it's one of the few times when your biology takes the wheel without your knowledge, growing you outwards to grow you upwards. Embrace that time when you're free to be whoever you want to be, and never let it go. — Haley Stark, art director and designer
I have always had a very large forehead with a deep hairline surrounded by baby hairs (I now lovingly call it my Tom Hanks), and I remember thinking that the trendy hairstyle at the time—gelling your hair back into a tight, high ponytail—was something that I could do. Compounded with my thick eyeglasses, my missing teeth (I didn't have all my front teeth until fifth grade), my lanky frame, and my eczema, I felt like the ugliest person alive. I'm so thankful that part of being an adult means that you can make those choices for yourself and that most people feel like looking different is a GOOD thing. I just wish I had the confidence back then to realize that those bangs I admired and those thrift clothes I always thought looked kind of cool on TV shows and movies would fit me and my personality perfectly. It would have saved me a few years of insecurity! — Connie Wang, fashion features director at Refinery29