It's Okay to be Creepy!

When living in a new place, you sometimes just need to be 'creepy'!

When living in a new place, you sometimes just need to be 'creepy'!


Dear Sergio,

Did you know that ‘creepy’ doesn’t exist in Spanish?  Try as I may, no one has even been able to give me a perfect translations of this word in Spanish. Raro. Subnormal. There are words that get close, but not any that fully embody the meaning that this word conveys in English. Although I find this so frustrating when I want to express this sentiment, I’m trying to use the fact that creepy doesn’t exist in Spain as a learning experience for myself.

‘Creepy’ is not a thing in Spain and so I try to not let it be something I worry about. If they haven’t come up with a word for it, they just must not be concerned with it…and therefore why should I? Our complexes around being seen as creepy if we talk to people we don’t know or feeling awkward in new situations limit us on a daily basis. And the preoccupation that this causes us is only more evident when we study or live abroad and find ourselves NEEDING to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations, but of course, afraid of doing so.

Whenever I find myself worrying about this, I think back to my first intercambio experience, and the fun I had after I got over that fear. A conversation that happened on that very first night has stuck with me much more than I ever would have realized. Some other English-speakers and I tried and tried to translate the word ‘creepy’ for my new Spanish friend, but we just could not do it! Over the years of getting to know each other better, this friend and I continue to joke about this word and he now finally seems to truly understand its context.

The meaning never actually mattered much until he recently moved to Barcelona. Now, living in a big new city in which he knows very few people, he’s faced with the uncomfortable situation of needing to put himself out there and meet new friends. I tried to encourage him to go to intercambios again; surely he would meet some worthwhile people. And you know what his response was? “Yah, I know…but I don’t wanna be creepy!”

Bam! Just like that, I saw our friendship come full-circle. I actually felt a little bit guilty for sharing this word with him and giving him reason for feeling that way*. But then I started to reflect. I wanted to tell him “Don’t say that! You’re not creepy!” but looking back at how he attached himself to me that first night at the intercambio, he kinda was. And the fact that we exchanged numbers and continued to attend meet-ups together without REALLY knowing each other could also be considered creepy. Maybe the fact that he invited me and another American girl to spend Christmas with his family just two months later is creepy too―but I am oh so grateful for all of the above!

You see, a lot of the initial stages of making friends can be ‘creepy,’ depending on how you look at it. But we have to learn to look past that and let it go. Try to imagine every great friendship you have now, every important group you belong to. Was there not some moment at the beginning that could be considered a little creepy? Didn’t SOMEONE have to go out a bit on a limb to invite the other to do something or start a random conversation?

I’d personally be lying if I didn’t say yes! So, like I did for my friend, I’m gonna encourage you to be creepy! I’m gonna encourage you to put yourself in somewhat awkward situations because if you don’t, it’ll be really hard to make new connections and grow. Strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the bus. If a conversation is going well, ask that person for their number or make a plan to meet up again. Is it a little ‘creepy’? Sure! But sometimes it’s okay to be creepy! In all honesty, it may be the only way to create something meaningful, and isn’t that what you want for your experience in Spain? I can’t wait to hear how it works out for you!


*Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like language kinda works that way―until you have a word to describe a sentiment, it’s hard to feel it. Once you can put a word to it, it’s much easier to recognize.