How to convince people that you aren’t awkward: Pt. 1

This is coming from a person with real-life experience on the subject. I’ll be writing more posts on individual scenarios, including, but not limited to: public restrooms, shopping, and older folks. Those will come in later months, or if you’re lucky, in a few weeks!

Most of these tips pertain to speaking and presence, but there are a few other things we can talk about, like online. I’ll be following it up in another blog post as well. Here we go!

  1. First, acknowledge that you’re awkward. Everybody’s awkward, and that’s totally fine! It’s much easier to hide your awkwardness if you’re aware of it. There’s no use to trying to say that you’re not awkward–that’ll just make you sound awkward. Let’s move on.
  2. Don’t laugh after everything you say. There’s little more awkward than somebody who laughs after every sentence, even if what he said wasn’t particularly funny. It leave the listeners with the question, “was he joking?” Then they will default to not laughing with you. Laughing in a group of people who aren’t also laughing is…well, awkward. You can break this rule if you’re already in the middle of making people laugh.
  3. Limit the self-deprecating jokes unless you are absolutely sure you know the people around you know you’re that joking. If you’re constantly putting yourself down, you’ll eventually get pitied–people will stop thinking you’re joking and take your self-deprecation seriously. Pity is not what you want, especially if you’re trying not to be awkward. Pity will make people avoid you. That’s awkward.
  4. Be aware of the atmosphere. You won’t do very well, making jokes at funerals or bawling my yourself in a restaurant or something like that. There’s an appropriate time and place for everything; when in doubt, watch and see what other people are doing, and try to emulate them.
  5. Next, importantly, speak loudly and clearly. This will do two things: it will make people hear you very well. This, in turn, will make you commit to what you say, and then, this will make you carefully consider what you say before you say it. This brings me to my next point.
  6. Rehearse internally. It’s easy to just blurt whatever comes to mind, but in many cases (if you’re awkward like me), it won’t make any sense. If you’re not sure of what you’re going to say or how you’re going to say it, take a step back and figure it out before going back in. Try to predict how people will respond to what you say, and see if you can plan a response to the most likely scenarios. Be willing to improvise, as well.
  7. Practice. Constantly put yourself in positions where you feel awkward, but then use these easy steps to convince them that you’re not awkward! It’s rare that you get better at something by just studying it; you’ll have to put it into practice. Math problems require exercises for mastery; awkwardness requires social immersion for reduction.
  8. Last, and perhaps the most fun, embrace the awkward. If you think you can do well by enhancing the awkwardness and putting it on other people, do it! I know a surprising number of people who strive on awkward humor. Awkward people come together in unity to make these huge groups of awkwardness. If you want to try to use this humor to your advantage, give it a shot! It’s super fun.

There you have it: my first “guide” on how to convince people you aren’t awkward. Leave a comment if you’ve got suggestions, specifics on execution, or if you think you’ve got a better list of requirements. I’m curious to know how you guys deal with awkwardness!


Five reasons why the fist bump is better than the handshake

I know this is really random, but as I get older and interact with more people, I find myself opting for the fist bump more and more. At first it was just because I found it more comfortable, but as I kept doing it, I realized it’s far more than that now–I believe it should replace the handshake altogether. Here are the reasons:

  1. Ambiguity
    Is it a handshake? Is it a wave? Is it a high-five? Is it a “gangsta” angled-highfive into chestbump thing? Truth is, there are already too many greetings that use an open-handed approach. It’s obvious that it’s time to move on, and the only thing you can mistake a fistbump for is an act of violence, and when you realize it isn’t, you can safely proceed to finish the bump.
  2. Varying Styles
    With the handshake, you’re confined to just the right hand-to-right hand or left hand-to-left hand, but the fist bump is not so confined. There’s a limitless number of ways you can fist bump someone–it doesn’t just have to be one-handed to one-handed. Behind the back, over the shoulder, between the legs…your only limit is your imagination.
  3. Formality (or more generously, “atmosphere-changing”)
    While I wouldn’t recommend fist bumping your, say, future mother-in-law (unless she’s super duper hip), there’s something to be noted about how a fist bump diffuses tension in professional settings. Sure, it doesn’t exactly bring you up to their level of professionalism, but it does show that you’re comfortable where you are, even if you aren’t. But use discretion when you’re meeting someone for the first time. Make a judgement call, because it’ll always be a gamble. It also makes old people feel young, like they don’t usually deserve to receive fist bumps or something. It’s weird.
  4. Cleanliness
    Fourth, and perhaps most important, is that a fist bump is much cleaner than a handshake. The palm of your hand is absolutely disgusting. It’s constantly touching things like your phone (when was the last time you sanitized that?) and your hair and your keyboard and ugh. When you shake somebody’s hand, you’re basically saying, “here, have all the filth I’ve accumulated on my skin since the last time I washed my hands.” Hopefully the person you just shook hands with isn’t carrying any disease, or else you’ll certainly be getting it yourself.
    There have actually been studies on the cleanliness of handshakes vs. fist bumps. If you don’t believe me, go look them up yourself. In your search, you’ll also find a bunch of articles saying the same thing that I am right now.
  5. Perfectly awkward
    Without a doubt, my favorite part about fist bumping someone is seeing how people react when I offer them one when they’re not expecting it. Usually it’s some combination between fear and an awkward smile. It’s even better when you both raise your arms and the other person is expecting some other sort of greeting. I find that the results are more amusing than I care to admit.

tl;dr: read the bold words above.

So go ahead, go out and start using the fist bump in place of the handshake, and see if I’m wrong. I’m here to change the culture of the world one fist bump at a time. [other closing words here]

Can’t help but notice that journalism is moving away from text articles and lists and to video instead. Next blog post idea?

mad boys

Maybe I should stop promising to post “later this month” because I’ve now I’ve completely missed the month of April. Anyway.

I think I’m finally starting to understand what it’s like to be an adult. These past few months have been a lot of firsts for me, and I’ve gone through a lot and my mindset has changed quite a bit since I graduated. I’m starting to see the appeal of money, starting to care (a tiny bit) about appearance, starting to feel like I need to be liked…

In short, I’m starting to grow up. And you know what? It’s not as fun as people make it out to be. I’m resistant to change. I hate change. I want to be able to sit on my bum all day during the summer and play video games from noon to sunrise the next day. I want to live off my mom’s food and money I get from Christmas.

I want a lot of things, and growing up isn’t one of them.

But I know I have to, so I won’t put it off. It’s better to start becoming a responsible adult now, than being stunted and trying to force myself to become one when the need arises. We’ve got too many immature men out there now anyhow. I don’t want to be one of them.


Okay, I lied. I didn’t write another post last month. Sorry for lying. I had an idea for a post but I don’t remember it now. It must not have been–never mind, I remember. I’ll post it later this month.

I was recently (like this morning, in the shower) thinking about how I learn how to do new things. I’ve been going through a phase where I’ve been constantly trying to improve my current skills and learn new ones. Improving old skills has basically been a period of grinding: repeated trials, self-observation and minor tweaking. Most of us do this without thinking about it; you get better at cooking, cleaning, driving, speaking, whatever. Just by doing those things.

But picking up a new skill doesn’t come around as often as you’d think. When was the last time you tried something new? If it was recent, think about how good you are at that thing and how much better you could be at it. How much time did you spend at getting as good as you are? If you spent more time doing it, how much better can you get, and how fast?

In my last few months in this phase, I’ve learned that the easiest way to start learning something is by comparing it to something you already know. For example, I’ve learned how to play about 10 new board games in the past few months, but I’ve had the benefit of being able to compare each new board game with one that I already know. The best name I’ve come up with for naming this process is “metaphorical learning” (admittedly, I didn’t try very hard to come up with a name).

What if I want to learn something in a completely new area? What if I want to learn to cook beef stroganoff without any prior knowledge of cooking (which is basically me right now)? I Well, I think there’s still some metaphorical learning to be done. The execution of any skill is a process, and each part of a process can be compared with another process of a skill you may already know.

So if you’re ever having trouble learning to do something new, try to think of how it can relate to something else you know. It’ll make the learning process a whole lot easier.

yak yak yak

This month’s lesson is on communication.

Ah, communication. The pinnacle of the human race. We wouldn’t be here without our incredible ability to communicate with one another, to pass ideas around with little effort. Our language and our communication is one of the most important developments of humanity.

Yet I find that many have trouble with communication. Maybe they lack the ability to express themselves coherently, or maybe they simply don’t think they need to communicate in the first place, or even somewhere in between. In any case, communication becomes lacking and people are left wondering whether it was on purpose, and if not, then what the speaker was trying to say at all.

I will admit that I find myself at fault of this somtimes, especially with updating my mom with where I am. I simply don’t think it’s important enough that I tell her where I am, so I just leave her in the dark about it.

Recently I realized that if someone as important to me as I am to my mother decided not to keep me in the loop, I’d be furious. I used to think my mom was being a nuisance but now I understand what she’s been frustrated about. Communication is important in family, work and church life and it’s best if you use it.

The question remains: is it possible to overcommunicate? It’s possible to talk a lot but there’s a difference between talking loud and saying something. I’m still trying to figure out the line in the middle.

That’s it for today. I’ll post again this month.

Postlets: January 2016

This post was originally going to be called “When Tinder Meets Bagel” but that would probably be too short. So I’ll include it with some other posts! yay

Online dating is on the rise, and so is the number of people who get married through it. But I wonder what the rate of successful marriages is. If people have a long-distance relationship with each other and they’ve only met through online dating, then the most interaction they have will just be through the internet. It’s pretty easy to put on a facade when you’re on the internet, and even if you’re meeting someone in person for a short period of time. What happens when they finally get married and live together? What happens when people start to show their true selves to each other? I’d be interested in seeing the statistics behind this.

I’m still concerned about my life passing by quickly (you can read my previous post to see what I was saying about that). It’s a feeling I can’t shake. January passed by faster than it ever has (I’ve come to realize that January goes by very quickly anyway).

You know how people say that you don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone? Yeah. I didn’t realize how much my life is spent on Youtube, but I came to this realization when I heard about the possibility of TotalBiscuit passing away. I tried to imagine the world and my life without him. I don’t think there’s anybody who can replace him and do what he’s done for the games industry, Youtube and for the internet in general. A few are similar, but none can match his witty combination of charm and cynicism. He’s seriously got a gift for that. He also makes really long videos that are interesting all the way through. Also a gift.

I wonder what will happen if he’s gone.

postlets: december 2015

Here’s a threefer (it’s basically what it sounds like). They were ideas that I was holding on to that aren’t fleshed out enough to warrent entire posts. I may revisit some of these later on.

I’m working now, and… well, it’s weird. It’s great that I’m making money while learning (as opposed to paying to learn), but I’m enjoying it quite a bit. So much so, in fact, that the days are passing by incredibly quickly, and I’m a little worried about life passing me by. I’m sure that this worry is rather ungrounded, and I will soon hate working and adult life, etc. etc. but I just can’t help but feel like I will be old soon. And dead.

I’m approaching 1,000 Facebook friends. It’s an incredibly strange feeling, being connected to so many people. If I were to run into anyone on my friends list, I’m sure I would be able to match the name to the face (unless I’ve never met the person, which should be fewer than five people). But I’m not sure if everybody else feels the same way.

Then there’s the fact that whatever I post may be seen by 1,000 people, so I have to be extra careful about what I write. Post the right (or incredibly wrong) thing, and there’s a possibility of even more people laying eyes on it. But I know they usually don’t. Facebook’s selective-posting algorithm is funky, and I’m sure it’s changed since I started paying attention to it.

It requires more and more effort nowadays to stand out from a crowd. I wonder if employers are looking for even looking for standouts anymore; seems like they’re just looking for people who fit a certain set of critera. Standing out may be becoming taboo.

But famous people stand out, right? They’re famous because they’re unique and special, right? Well, sorta. They’re unique, special, and incredibly good at what they do. Sure. But they’re also incredibly lucky, both with their timing and with their circumstances.

The value of personal uniqueness seems to be taking a nosedive. You’re special. I’m special. Who cares?


I’ll be restarting my “Quote of the Day” for the year of 2016. Stay tuned, make sure you keep checking back and talk to me if you want to become famous. (har har)


I never left

The days of “brb” are over. It’s kind of bittersweet, isn’t it? The people who spent their childhoods in front of their computers IMing other people will understand what I mean.

The advent of mobile devices has come and passed. There are fewer PCs in households than there are laptops, tablets and smart phones. This means that people are moving away from the AIM, the YIM, the ICQ, the MSN messenger and onto the seemingly-ubiquitous Facebook messenger.

But with Facebook messenger (and many other platforms), you can pause your conversation and pick it up somewhere else at any time you want, traveling between your computer or your cell phone. People will no longer find it strange when you stop replying for a few minutes without saying anything. And quite frankly, I have a hard time getting used to this change. What was rude in the early days of instant messaging has now become the norm. I understand that there’s no need to explain your reasons for leaving, or say that you’re even leaving in the first place, since your means of communication don’t require you to be staring at it all the time. But couldn’t you at least tell me if you’re going to put it down for a while?

It’s not that I want to know exactly where you are at any given time (although Facebook has basically already got that down), I just want to know if I’m going to have to sit and wait for your response or if I can leave and do something else for a little bit. This is particularly true for me because since I tend to play with very risky humor, I get a bit nervous when there’s no response from the other end.

Anyway, if you know me (or have read anything I’ve posted in the past….forever), you know that I’m pretty stubborn. Right now, I refuse to use Facebook Messenger because I don’t feel the need to be connected all the time, let alone notified immediately when someone contacts me. That is, unless I’m sitting in front of my computer; just like I always have and I always will.

Sometimes I just miss the old days, which why I still use Trillian. I logged into AIM, YIM and MSN every day until they stopped working. It’s sad to see all of those platforms turn into a wasteland. Maybe it’s for the best, who knows?

rip in peace, SmarterChild.

8 Unwritten Rules to Help you Survive the Road

I don’t know what it is about Seattle drivers nowadays, but it seems to me like we’ve gotten much more erratic in general over the past few months. I’m guessing it might have something to do with the new toll lanes on 405.


My past few years of driving have been me trying to figure out the best ways to drive. Here’s a few things I’ve picked up over the years–feel free, as always, to correct me if you disagree.

  1. If it’s raining, turn on your headlights, regardless of how bright it is. This is especially important if it’s bright outside. Your headlights aren’t just for you to illuminate the road ahead of you, it’s also the best way to make yourself visible on the road.
  2. Avoid tailgating in traffic. Tailgating in traffic is the most dangerous and possibly the most foolish mistake you can make on the road. The key to doing your part to alleviate traffic and being safe is to leave a big gap between you and the car in front of you. That way, people can freely merge in, reducing traffic in the lanes next to you; you’ll have plenty of time to react to brakes in front, reducing the chance of a brake-slamming chain reaction right behind you; and you won’t be accelerating and braking constantly, saving you lots of gas and headache. Leave a distance of at least three cars in front of you and match its speed. Trust me on this one. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
  3. In the same vein, make sure you match the speed of the lane you’re merging into before you merge. If you’re in a stuck lane and you want to move to the one next to you, leave a considerable gap between you and the car in front of you and use it to speed up. If you’re trying to get into a lane that’s not moving as quickly as yours, slow down and try to squeeze in–at a reasonable speed, of course. If someone doesn’t want to let you in, move on ahead and try again. Be careful and make sure you keep an eye on the road in front of you when you’re merging.
  4. Keep right except to pass (this includes small roads). Left-lane squatters have started being pulled over by police, because it’s illegal to sit in the left lane unless you’re actively passing people. In a sense, it’s legal to stay in the left lane for a long time, but if you look in the rearview mirror and someone’s tailgating you, move aside. If you don’t feel comfortable driving over the speed limit, don’t drive in the left lane.
  5. DO NOT BRAKE-CHECK. It seems like totally logical and safe (and vengeful) to get the person away from your bumper, but it’s also the easiest way to get into an accident. From where you are, you won’t be able to tell if the person behind you is also being tailgated. Give them the benefit of the doubt and just move. If he follows you, move again. Don’t recklessly speed up or you might find yourself being pulled over.
  6. That being said, keep the speed limit. Use the highway on-ramps to get up to the speed limit and off-ramps to slow down. If an on- or off-ramp is a mile long, that means you have a mile to speed up or slow down to the next speed limit–you don’t have to slam on the brakes immediately after you veer off the main highway. Also, getting on the highway under 55mph is incredibly dangerous. Make sure you’re up to speed when you’re ready to switch lanes.
  7. Don’t drive distracted. This should be a no-brainer. Don’t text, call, drink, eat, sleep, apply make-up, watch movies or study while driving. Your presence on the road makes your attention on the road a priority. This mistake could cost you your life, or worse yet, the lives of many others. It could also cause you to break any of these other rules, which is equally bad.
  8. Don’t run stoplights or stop signs. When you approach an intersection where you’re supposed to stop, you should ALWAYS stop and check for cars. It’s fine if you make a rolling stop at an intersection, as long as you are sure that a) there aren’t any cars that may interfere with your position, and b) that if there are cars, that you have enough time to take your action and continue moving afterward.

All of these rules can be summed up into one: be considerate of others. Traffic laws are only put in place so that everybody can be on the same page, but none of them are absolutely necessary. Don’t do something that you would loathe another person for doing.

Stay safe out there.


I’m so naive.

I’ve created a habit of blindly listening to other peoples’ opinions without fact-checking it against what I actually believe. This has led me to be very confused about what the world is like and on current issues, but also equally indifferent because nobody can seem to come to an agreement about anything.

I had a good think session (in the shower, where all the greats had their good think sessions) as to why I started doing this and here’s the best I could come up with:

Going to a public high school, I was taught to question (mostly) everything. Nothing is black and white; there are gray areas in almost every situation. Is this person justified in doing this or that? Maybe. Why not? This type of thinking enabled me to open my mind and allowed me to truly think about what I was hearing. The benefits of this type of thinking are still in effect in my life today, just at a very reduced level.

After I graduated high school and went on to college, I was thrown into an environment where you couldn’t argue for answers–right was right and wrong was wrong–and we weren’t required to think for ourselves, simply because there was no need to do so. Perhaps it had something to do with being an engineering major; its history has one truth (though some of it is shrouded in shame, such as the treatment of legendary computer scientist and cryptanalyst Alan Turing), and computers think in a very logical way, thus leading to human computer-handlers to think in such a logical way.

My other excuse is that my naivety was caused by technology itself. Easy access to media allows me to always listen to other peoples’ opinions but also to drown out the voices in my own head. The constant flow of ideas jumbles up my ideas but also prevents me to differentiating opinions of people I trust from opinions of people I don’t necessarily agree with.

Be careful, folks. Make sure you’re always keeping an open mind and always make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to think about what you believe, rather than occupying yourself with random junk your life doesn’t need. This is the only way to stay grounded in your beliefs. That being said, it’s still possible to change what you believe, but don’t be too hasty to change it either.