Ask Andrew W.K.: Embrace the Awkwardness of Hugging


[Editor’s note: Every Wednesday, New York City’s own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose, or — no surprise here — a party.]


Today is National Hugging Day. Would you please hug me?


Dear HJ,

I am hugging you. Right now. Despite what some people might believe, it is possible to actually hug someone just using your mind. I’m giving you a mental hug right at this very moment. And as you read each of these words, you’ll feel my presence wrapping and cuddling around you. I’m conjuring up every ounce of joy, compassion, care, affection, respect, tenderness, and unconditional love that I have, and bundling you up inside of it. Can you feel it?

This type of hug can be even better than a physical arm-based hug. This mental hug enrobes your soul with pure comfort and soothing care from within. This psychic hug encases your inner self with a glowing warmth. This kind of hug can reach you when my physical arms can’t, and it can stay with you for a long time — longer than even the strongest arms could keep squeezing. This is a hug that you feel from the inside out. This is a hug that you can wear like a second interior skin — it shelters your very essence and defends you from harm.

Hugs are one of the best things about being alive. Hugs actually make it possible to stay alive. The ability we have to comfort each other is what makes us humane and not just human. As a child, we crave hugs from our mothers in a primal and urgent way. But as we grow older, we don’t need to grow cynical regarding the inherent need for pure, platonic affection. As we once reached out to our parents, as children — we want to reach out to the world, as individuals, and be embraced for who we are. This natural instinct must not be discouraged, despite its at times feeling very intense.

No matter how alone you may ever feel, you must remember that you are loved and cared about and wanted in this world, even if you don’t see immediate proof or have someone right there at that moment to hug you. That’s why I am telling you this now. These words are hugs.

Remember the truth of this feeling for those challenging moments when there seems to be no one there to hug you. And that voice inside that tries to convince you no one cares? That voice is lying. The voice that tells you life sucks and that everything is hopeless and that no one would ever love you? That voice is wrong. And if you can dig deeper and hear the other voice way down inside that simply speaks truth, it will remind you that you are loved and that everything really will be OK, somehow or another. Even if we don’t know how we’ll make it through, we will. This hug will get you through the hard moments in life. That’s what hugs are about — pure reassurance in the midst of struggle and strife — that I am here and I care about you. And you will make it through.

To the people who feel that these ideas are “corny” or “stupid” or “overly sentimental,” I want to hug you, too. I want to hug you until you feel how a hug is not an idea, but a sensation. It is the fundamental basic feeling of love expressed in physical action, but for no reason other than to make someone feel loved. And do any of us really want to exist in a world where a hug like that is seen as “corny” or “stupid”?

We can make hugs our role model. Even if you don’t like being hugged or getting hugs, that’s OK too. We can still embrace each other and embrace the good things in the world. We can embrace our own existence and all the amazing, bewildering, and challenging experiences that come with it. Embrace the awkwardness. Embrace the vulnerability. Embrace yourself. Embrace life, and life will hug you back.

And always remember to make eye contact with the other person right after you hug. It drives the hug home.

Your friend,
Andrew W.K.

Read all of Andrew W.K.’s advice columns here.