Post- Magazine

on being cringe [lifestyle]

don't the kill the part of you that's cringe, kill the part of you that cringes

According to the internet, there are over 7,000 undergraduate students currently attending Brown. Yet, after a year and a half here, I’ve come to realize that Brown can feel incredibly small. To walk across the green and not get waved at is a rarity for me, and whenever I introduce myself, I am frequently met with, “Oh! Indigo from [insert publication/club/class here]. Do you know __?” And the odds are that I usually do, in fact, know __. Although it’s lovely to be known as Indigo from X/Y/Z, there are also the less pleasant moments of being perceived: it’s always at my most disheveled, clothed in a crusty sweatshirt picked up off the floor of my Wayland double, with my hair in matted clumps due to exam-induced neglect, that I run into my crush at the Ratty. 

I am not alone in this constant sense of being perceived as I move about my day: my friends constantly lament over awkward encounters and run-ins with acquaintances they’d rather not see. One word that frequently comes up in these discussions is cringe, a single-syllable word that sounds like what it means: gut-wrenching, toe-curling, and almost nausea-inducing embarrassment, whether experienced first or secondhand. At its core, cringe means something that must be avoided at all costs. 


I, however, run toward potential embarrassment with my arms open. I don’t mean to say this in a “not-like-other-girls-sense.” What I mean is that as I grow into myself with each day that passes, somehow approaching selfhood and sentience, I have found myself rarely embarrassed about anything—even on our at times suffocatingly small campus. In fact, I’ve found myself embracing “cringe,” finding the awkward moments of my time here as delightful as a Hugh Grant character in an 80s rom-com fumbling his way through his ultimately charming life. 

So, dear reader, I want to provide you with moments at this little school that are deeply cringe but that I’ve survived nonetheless. I’m not advocating that you should never feel embarrassed—instead, I hope to show you some of my most embarrassing moments, and in doing so prove that life goes on, and cringeness is not only survivable but even delightful. 

#1: The spillage of milk

The Ratty was at its peak lunchtime rush, with not an empty table to be found even in the alcoves. In my hand, I held a plastic cup filled nearly to the brim with whole milk; that is, I held it until I didn’t, when balance was lost and the cup fell from my hands. It clattered onto the floor, spilling onto the shoes of several onlookers. There was a momentary silence in the alcove, as heads turned towards the commotion. As I scrambled to get napkins from a nearby dispenser, several onlookers turned into allies and helped me clean up the mess. Laughs were shared, and I made a pun about not crying over spilt milk. What would be embarrassing to many—especially considering I was exposing that I am not trendy and drink regular milk—was a delightful moment of community for all involved.

#2: Tinder usage 


Many of my friends have remarked on their inability to use dating apps at a school this small, saying they don’t want the world to know that they’re swiping left and right. While I understand this aversion to Tinder-induced embarrassment, the awkward digital encounters are what make it so delightful in my opinion. Accidentally swiping right on someone who lives on your floor, running into your Spanish class’s TA on the app, and matching with your ex for the sake of the bit are all delightfully silly moments that await if you choose to venture towards the red flame. 

Many view dating apps as somehow being inherently cringe, arguing that meeting people in the “real world” is the only non-cringe way to embark upon dating at Brown (D@B, if you will). And while I understand the whole premise can feel absurd—curating photos of yourself to be swiped through, creating a bio that’s funny but not so funny it demonstrates any sort of actual investment in anything, being able to select “mental health” as a hobby alongside things like “coffee” and “rave”—I argue that one day we’ll be looking back at dating app culture nostalgically, whether we were participants, observers, or both. I can see myself saying, years in the future: “It was the summer of 2023, and I had just swiped right on this beautiful man. ‘Certified munch’ read his bio.” I’ll then wistfully gaze into the distance, of course. 

#3: Creation of TikToks 

The Tube Girl? Cringe. The renegade? Cringe. Unironically doing TikTok trends? Cringe. So say most. I vehemently disagree. We’re living through a cultural moment and I want to participate in it, even if that means surrendering some of my privacy. I mean, what does the NSA not know about me at this point? So yes, I will do the Tube Girl challenge during a semi-packed Friday night at Jo’s. The video will turn out terribly, the group behind me and my friends in line will snicker at us, and I may lightly elbow the chin of one of my friends by accident during the madness of it all. But the video will be sent to our group chat for a laugh, and whenever I find myself feeling sad, I’ll watch it and smile to myself. 

#4: Adventures in solitude

Many of my friends cite going alone to a dining hall as one of the most embarrassing things a person can do at this school. I find it delightful, personally, especially with a book or copy of the New Yorker to skim pretentiously and reference obnoxiously in the future. Going to any event alone—a club meeting, a party, anything—is looked upon as cringe by some. But the truth is, nobody will point at you and belittle you for having come alone; this isn't an elementary school playground. Instead, adventures in aloneness are an opportunity—to meet someone new, to mysteriously smoke a cig outside, to stand sexily by a wall. The world is yours to make of it, especially when you have someone as beautiful as yourself on your side. 

#5: The importance of being earnest 

Somehow the expression of feeling has become cringe, with nonchalance being in and earnest declarations of emotion being out. While this is not universally true, here are some texts I’ve received that prove my point: 

“i have a crush” 

“it’s so embarrassing” 

“I’m actually with him rn” 

“It’s just so cringe” 

“I just think highly of you as a person (cringe)” 

“I think I like you” 

“That was cringe wasn’t it” 

“Kinda sorta wish I could see you” 

“Cringe ik” 

“not me lowkey being upset” 


“When Charlotte’s dog died I wrote a eulogy” 

“I always thought that was one of the most cringe things I’ve ever done” 

As these texts reveal, somehow this cultural moment has deemed feeling things and declaring one’s emotions embarrassing. If there’s one thing I know it’s that we must reject this entirely. The greatest gift of being human is to experience the range of emotions in its entirety—plants, as miraculous as they are, don’t get to experience love and rage and joy. So tell your crush you like them. Remind your friends you love them. Declare your care for others, in all its forms—scream it so loudly from the top of College Hill that the ducks by the Pedestrian Bridge feel the water ripple beneath their feathers. Tell people you cherish them until your vocal chords get sore and your lips begin to ache from words of love. 

Indigo Mudbhary

Indigo Mudbhary is a University news senior staff writer covering student government. In her free time, she enjoys running around Providence and finding new routes.

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