Some eleven year old girls aren't awkward.
Sadly, I wasn't one of them.
My city started their first ever Little Miss City pageant the year I was eleven, and like a kid who likes to do everything, I signed up, having no idea what I was doing. Nor having any idea how itchy being up on stage in front of a gym full of people made you. I am talking full-body itch. Head to toe. The kind you can't just ignore.
I was thrilled when I had finally finished "performing" my talent (in which I had a bunch of pictures I had painted on easels, and walked around talking about them in an unprepared script-less manner while scratching everywhere and saying "um" a lot). Afterward, one of the judges approached me and suggested that I enter my talent in a more appropriate venue. The State Pageant of the Arts.
So I did, and I won. Pretty cool, huh? Except that it meant going to an awards ceremony, which occurred on opening night of the performing part of the Pageant.
Did I mention I was awkward?
My mom told me to wear a dress. I liked wearing a dress as much as I would've liked staying in from recess to scrape gum off the bottoms of desks, so I used every power of persuasion I owned to convince my mom that a dress wasn't needed. I had maroon corduroy pants with a matching vest that was nice. --ish. And the best part was, I was already wearing the pants and the shirt! All I'd have to do was put on the jacket! (I was NOT one of those girls who changed clothes dozens of times a day.)
No matter how hard I tried, though, I didn't convince my mom. She still believed I should wear a dress. (Like that pretty one that I wore to Little Miss City!) I was fairly persistent, though, and eventually I won.
At the ceremony, the organizers led us on stage in front of the biggest crowd I had ever seen, to sit in a long row of fifteen kids-- the other winners from the other age categories. EVERY SINGLE GIRL WORE A DRESS BUT ME. And suddenly I remembered that in addition to my maroon pants that were possibly getting a little too short, I was wearing sky blue socks. I'd never felt more uncomfortable (or awkward!) in all my life. An embarrassment my mom had tried to save me from before I even left the house.
Critique partners and critique groups are like moms. They find all of those things in your manuscript that have the potential to embarrass you. They point out the things that don't match. They show where you are falling a bit short. They call you on places where you're being inappropriate. They don't want your sentences to be awkward.
You might not think they're right. You might fight them with all the persistence you have. When you're inclined to fight them until you win, take a break. Even if it's a lot of work to change, take a moment to see if they may just be right. You'll be glad they were there to make sure that before your manuscript "leaves home," you aren't going to embarrass yourself.