That “Exit This Way” Sign

Article by Emily Lighezzolo


I am sure many of you have found yourself in the middle of an awkward situation before (of your own making, more often than not). Suffocating in embarrassment you look up to see that “Exit this Way” sign. It’s mocking you; its fluorescent green lights blinking in your peripheral vision.

You wish you can just run for that exit sign; that escapism! It looks as appealing as Narnia; like a yellow brick road you can follow. Alas, with stumbling words and natural rouge blushing your cheeks, you stay-put in reality and live out your awkward predicament.

You could call me a tad inept and graceless. I have no gateway keeper between my brain and tongue. Sometimes I wish I had a Gandalf with a staff on my tongue to tell my thoughts “You shall not pass”. Alas, I do not and as such, my life is filled with moments where little “Exit this Way” signs pop up in situations.

Just the other day I experienced an “Exit this way” situation on George Street in Brisbane. I was amongst a flock of pedestrians walking towards the city, swinging my arms and care-free. Well I was care-free until I swung my arm into a passer-by’s crotch.

Oh, how I had wished I could pursue that green blinking sign and run away from the middle-aged business man looking at me curiously.

However, as I pondered my attempt at crotch-grabbing a few hours later, I realised perhaps it’s our awkward moments that tell us who we are.

Now I am not saying that this crotch-grabbing incident revealed to me that I am a ‘wannabe Michael Jackson’. It did reveal to me that I am imperfect in my own way; being gawky and flawed makes me human.

Even our favourite celebrities have their “Exit this Way” awkward moments. Jennifer Lawrence fell further into our hearts when she fell in her ball gown at the 2013 Oscars. This was no picturesque Cinderella moment, but rather just a graceless mess of tulle and flailing limbs.

Yet, her fans applauded her for it; she was human and relatable to them. Could I almost say that her awkwardness made her “cool”?

Social-ineptness is a social norm these days. When we hear of others’ awkward moments, we feel relieved and connected for not being the only freak in town.

Admit it: we all loved the gawky Seth over ‘heart-throb’ Ryan in the OC. We were always rooting for Dan not Nate to end up with Serena. Our favourite TV friends were the Friends gang, as they all had their comical quirks.

So next time you’re digging yourself a hole in an embarrassing situation and see that “Exit this Way” sign blinking in the horizon, remember awkwardness can be cool.

Just some personal advice: crotch-grabbing, unless you’re Michael Jackson, will never be cool.


Image attribution – Flickr: A National Acrobat