Embrace the Awkward


Playing in the mud, Vang Vieng, Laos

Embrace The Awkward

Embrace the awkward in your travels.

One of the greatest things about travel is that it pushes you beyond your comfort zone, introducing you to cultures and situations that were completely foreign to you. In this journey, you are 100% certain to run into a lot of awkward situations. So let me introduce you to my own personal mantra, embrace the awkward. 

Completing the artwork, Angers, France
Completing the artwork, Angers, France


It must be a primal human instinct to seek comfortable surroundings for fear of the unknown.But if we can manage to overcome this instinct, we are rewarded with incredible experiences and encounters that open  both heart and mind to a larger world. In life, especially on the road, you will be encountered with man new situations that will leave you feeling, well, damned awkward! If you are anything like me, than your instinct will tell you to sidestep the situation as best as possible, and that’s a mistake. 

These awkward situations will turn into some of the more memorable moments of your travels and some of the funniest stories to tell your family and friends. So instead of trying to sidestep your way out of the situation, for fear of losing face, get right in there, make a fool of yourself and appreciate every moment of the ridiculousness.

Getting dreadlocks, Bangkok, Thailand
Getting dreadlocks, Bangkok, Thailand

What’s the old saying? “You regret the chances you don’t take much more than the ones you do” … or something of that sort.


So how do you fight the instinct of flight an allow the situation to become more and more awkward? Well, this is a bit of an art form, but basically you try to look at the situation from an omnipotent point of view. In other words, picture yourself as the narrator watching the situation instead of the subject within it… and imagine how you will tell the story in the future. If you manage to step back and pretend that your watching yourself, you’ll be able to appreciate the humour in the moment and realize that you can go deeper and deeper into the awkwardness in order to augment the comical value of the story.

Just think to yourself, when you tell your friend this story, what will they ask? You certainly don’t want to be left answering “I don’t know, didn’t ask” … Learn to anticipate these questions and ask them…. the weird little hazard of this technique is that you may actually learn some very valuable lessons and will certainly learn a lot about different cultures.

While you’re doing this, make sure that yoKichwa ceremony, Salasaka, Ecuadoru are not mocking or ridiculing the other person, their beliefs or their culture… Take a real interest and you’ll be rewarded with a memorable experience and interesting story. 

Many of my favourite moments throughout my travels have started with some of the most awkward situations I could’ve ever imagined. Here are a few of them:

Alone on a Camel Safari
The Hazards of Being a Small Town Traveler
Curious About Living in a Cave?

I absolutely love to hear about other people being thrown out of their comfort zone and learning to embrace the awkward, so please leave me a comment regarding when you managed to just go with it and embrace the awkward.

Kichwa ceremony, Salasaka, Ecuador.
Jonny Jenkins

Jonny Jenkins

My name is Jonny, my friends call me Stef. I'm Canadian born, but don't find my identity based upon some borders that man drew hundreds of years ago. I have begun to make my way through the world, travelling and living in many different countries and cultures. I believe whole heartedly in staying longer and going deeper to get the best understanding possible of many different perspectives of life. In order to do so, you have to speak the language. I am no polyglot, but have started to put more emphasis on learning languages in the last few years. I have learned Spanish, relearned French, and started in on Portuguese, German, Indonesian and Malagasy. When it comes to the third world, I am willing to help where they (and not I) decide they need it... in the first world, I am hoping to inspire and motivate people to live more engaging lives.

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