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KerryOn: Awkward First Kiss

At one time or another everyone experiences an awkward first kiss. It’s the one that doesn’t quite match, the one with missed timing, the one with uncertainty. I experienced my awkward first kiss while traveling through Ireland in 1999.

My husband (not the awkward kiss) and I were exploring Blarney Castle in the South of Ireland. As I began walking up the narrow steps of the stone castle, I was excited to reach the top and “kiss the Blarney Stone”. Mind you, these were the days before information was readily available at our fingertips. In fact, when I think about it, I’m surprised we even found Blarney Castle … or anything, before the days of high-speed internet. As we approached the Blarney Stone, excitement turned quickly into confusion. “What is this?” I wondered.

I was expecting I would have to lean over and kiss some type of stone right in front of me. That was not the case. Instead, I had to lie on my back while two locals four times my age dangled me over a hole in the stone floor, with nothing to stop me from falling about 80 feet to the ground below. I clenched the metal rods coming out of the ancient stone wall for dear life. While hanging upside down, I tried not to think of the millions of people before me who were in this same precarious position. I closed my eyes and puckered up.

As I walked away from the Blarney Stone, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I took an awkward situation and experienced it whole-heartedly. Of course, I ended up with a cold for the rest of our trip but perhaps that was just a coincidence. (Apparently, they now sanitize it between visitors).

When I reflect on my experience at Blarney Castle, it makes me wonder, what if I hadn’t continued to move forward in line? What if I hadn’t had my awkward first kiss? Sure, it would have been much more comfortable to just skip the line and the awkwardness of it all. But, then again, I wouldn’t be able to boast that I kissed the Blarney Stone.

The world is filled with awkward first kisses. But, aren’t most new experiences in life awkward? There are times new experiences don’t quite match, the timing is just off. One thing for sure, they are filled with uncertainty. The more times we embrace new experiences, however, the more they transform from awkward to familiar.

If we are lucky, the awkward first kiss can come up over and over in many different forms. It can be a move to a new location, it can be a career change, it can be a new love. Finding the awkward first kiss is really up to us.

I have a few more awkward first kisses in my future that need to be pursued. I know I’m not alone in that thinking. Perhaps instead of stepping out of line, we need to close our eyes and pucker up.

I learned first-hand that overcoming the awkward first kiss can change a trajectory. According to legend, kissing the Blarney Stone endows the kisser with the gift of eloquence. It could be the very reason I share my story. KerryOn.

KerryOn Questions

- How do you approach an awkward first kiss?

- In what ways do you embrace new experiences that have uncertainty?

- What are the next awkward first kisses you need to pursue?

The Kerry behind KerryOn

My name is Kerry K. Fierke, Ed.D. (pron. Fear-Key) I have a unique combination of skills and experience – decades of fast-paced corporate experience in Fortune 100 companies and large health care organizations, combined with the academic rigor of a highly ranked research university. My focus is supporting others to create their own path to leadership development, lifelong learning, and a unique leadership legacy. Take a moment to focus on leadership, then KerryOn!

To see all KerryOn's and other leadership stuff, visit

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