The Children’s Society has launched a campaign known as Seriously Awkward.This competition seeks short stories inspired by the awkward stage most sixteen and seventeen years old experience. But what exactly does it mean to be awkward? When I searched for the synonyms of awkward, the dictionary gave definitions such as difficult, stubborn and obstinate. These definitions are indeed wrong but it can often appear to society in this way leading to labels and stereotypes. One thing everyone including myself can be mindful of is looking at situations and people with a compassionate gaze irrespective of their ‘awkwardness’ or differences.
Here are three situations where the compassionate gaze can be practised:
SCENARIO ONE: SUSIE SMELLS
Susie attends school every day. This is not what her school classmates observe- what they notice is her smell. She doesn’t smell very fresh. Nobody knows why and they can never comprehend why she cannot attend to her hygiene.
Compassionate Gaze: Susie lives in abject poverty. A house with regular leaks, little or no hot water and an expensive gas bill which her parents struggle to pay due to their low incomes combined. Susie showers sporadically.
SCENARIO TWO: MYLIE THE MIGHTY
Mylie is a quiet girl. She can be quite moody and a little short-tempered. She bottles up her emotions too much and waits till she reaches a breaking point before she retaliates. Every day in the mathematics class, Joe keeps calling her names. One day, she decided to throw a stool at him out of anger.
Compassionate Gaze: Mylie has some anger issues triggered by domestic violence she sees her mother experiencing. She doesn’t tell anyone and keeps the pain hidden. Her anger builds. She cannot afford therapy sessions and the mental health waiting list keeps growing making her wait longer.
SCENARIO THREE: MORGAN THE MISGUIDED
Morgan finds it difficult to integrate so when he found bad friends with whom he became very loyal. A gullible young man thinking he has found a family and community.
Compassionate Gaze:Morgan lacks the guidance he needs. His mother works night shifts struggling to pay the bills. So when the boys on the estate promises him an illegal job which makes more money than his mother, he takes the risk with the potential that this illegal occupation could kill him either by the gunshot or the stabbing of a sharp knife.
By no means are the compassionate gaze excuses or an absolute representation of what people in similar situations go through. These characters whom are purely fictional just offer us an insight into the lives of those experiencing the awkward stage. It is imperative to think with a gaze that sees the compassionate side of things which is better than formulating misconceptions. A little bit of a compassionate gaze makes the world a better place.
Please feel free to use these ideas as inspiration for your entries either as a piece of character development or perhaps the essence of your plot.
You can register to submit your entries here
Or submit your short story directly here.
Thank you very much for reading.
***This blog post is in partnership with the Children’s Society.