Posted in Of Psyche

Of Embarrassment

'Is there anything worse than waking and going to the bathroom?'
Embarrassment Cartoon

I giggle all the time. I stutter, I stammer. I frequently check up on words I know, just to be sure of their spelling and meaning before I use them. I am always awkward in a social situation, for which I compensate by talking too much, or not at all. I find social eating painful, because I hate anyone seeing food on my teeth. My hair. My nose. My handwriting. My permanently broken voice which, if I don’t use for a while, sounds like a man. My big toes. My big belly. I drop things all the time. I carry the world in my bag, and am frequently found fidgeting with it awkwardly, in awkward places. My lack of knowledge about sports, economics and Pokemon. My saying or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. My dozing off in the wrong place at the wrong time. My finding Bridget Jones to be more of a reflection of life than comedy. Sometimes, my very existence.

I am already embarrassed because a) I seem to have forgotten some things, b) why am I telling you all these things in the first place? c) I could have written the above paragraph much, much better. You’d tell me there is nothing to be embarrassed about. We embarrass ourselves everyday (at least I do). Why can’t we just admit it and move on with our lives? There are devices to deal with it, such as self-deprecating humour. And I do that a lot, only to find others don’t have the same sense of humour as I do. They look at me as if I was a strange creature from another planet, tell me I have low self-esteem and imply that giggling is an inappropriate habit that should be dumped by the time you are sixteen. Embarrassment wouldn’t be so embarrassing if people didn’t make you feel it twice over.

Perhaps, I am slightly ridiculous. I just wish I could own it. Not be mortified if I drop something. Not be ashamed for years because I forgot to pull down my skirt behind me once before coming out of the bathroom. No, instead, I check several times before stepping out. I refuse to carry breakable objects unless they come in a bag. I avoid social situations as much as possible, because I can’t be trusted to speak or not to speak.

It’s not just anxiety. Yes, even if anxiety is supposed to be a defence mechanism that guides you from danger, some things happen to you out of the blue. How are you supposed to know that the person you are talking about is right behind you? What can you do if a family member decides to tell that story about the time you were…? After all, you have no control over how the universe works. You can’t prepare for every situation you are thrust into. You can’t prepare at all, it’s what you do in the aftermath that’s under your control. And no matter how much you remind yourself of Lady Gaga in a meat dress, you can’t be similarly cool about having done something equally ridiculous.

And you’re embarrassed about everything you have ever done! Your past, that is ample material to make you cringe. To bury your head in your chest, to massage your forehead while you’re at it. I can’t share a cringey picture of myself on social media, because I’d rather not have my pictures taken. I find them all ridiculous. Period.

Is it low self-esteem, is it perfectionism, or is it just not wanting to do or be certain things? My worst habit in life is trying to please people. It’s nothing short of juggling or putting on a jester’s hat. I can’t bear the idea of anyone around me being anything less than happy, no matter how miserable it makes me. Now, that is plentiful opportunity to embarrass yourself. I just can’t be content with my individual existence. I have to try to make the world better at every step, even if the world isn’t interested. Not at this moment, at least.

There, all covers blown. I have admitted some embarrassing things in the past here, but I didn’t realise an essay about embarrassment should also be embarrassing. I suppose, it serves a purpose. Imagine being perfect. Keeping it up at every moment would be a nightmare. You couldn’t survive a day with that kind of anxiety. It would be equal to keeping impending death away. You can’t humanly handle it. No, you have to embarrass yourself for your own sake, no matter how the world perceives it.

I wouldn’t know what to do if I had a perfect nose or a smooth diction. I’d probably hate being a model or a newsreader because of it. It sounds horribly clichéd, but flaws make people so much more interesting. If something is perfect, it means I don’t have to think about it. If something isn’t, it’s a problem, a conflict, something that makes you think.

Not that I think about my nose, or how to solve it. But, I’m used to it. It’s me. If I said the right thing at the right time, I probably wouldn’t say much at all. I’d become complacent, uninterested in doing or being anything. Embarrassment is just the consequence; you couldn’t live your life without making mistakes. That sounds all very Zen, but it’s the obvious truth.

What made you feel embarrassed in the last few days? Share below!



Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

25 thoughts on “Of Embarrassment

  1. I’m embarrassed of something that happened yesterday. We were visiting friends and I got chosen by the oldest child to kick a soccer ball around. I never played soccer, but as my opponent was only six years old, I wasn’t so worried about form. It was all completely fun, nothing serious at all, but at some point he started trash talking me the way only a six year old can. I’m embarrassed to say I couldn’t properly respond in kind (without resorting to swearing!) Surely I’m clever enough to respond to a trash talking six year old…but sadly I could not! Ah well!

    On a more serious nature, this is a really debilitating thing. I have always blushed at inopportune moments, which inevitably results in someone saying, hey look at Rob at how red he is turning. I have told some key people in my life never to do that because it actually feels terrible going through that. Like having a big sign saying-everyone laugh at the person turning a shade of beet red. And it is embarrassing to have to live with it, and owing to my pale complexion and having once had reddish-orange hair, it is something I have always dealt with.

    1. Oh, kids scare me too! I rarely have a comeback to what some of them say. I guess you and I are just extra-sensitive, can’t let anything slide off. Even today, I got offended by something someone said that was supposed to be playful, though I still believe it was a put-down. It’s very hard to navigate through the world like this. Not kids, but some people are dead to the bone, whose only source of fulfilment is putting other people down and making them comform to their world view. They think we sensitive, arty types are naive. And you can’t control what people think.

      I think this was tangential to the subject under discussion, but I had another commenter connecting this with acute self-awareness and fear. That is so true.

      I hope you’re well Robert.

      1. The kid reaction was all in fun and what he said was completely non-nonsensical and silly, but I just found it funny that I couldn’t counter with something equally silly! As to the other thing you said, yes I completely agree about perceptions of us ‘arty’ types. I actually started writing a post that I’m hoping touches on that with music by the Oysterband (not sure if you know them- folk-rock. at one point with a very punk attitude, but always good no matter what). There has been so much of that conformity thrust upon us by way of the election results, and now that I am wearing the ‘artist’ hat, I’m not going to go quietly. I agree with the other poster as well and it being about self-awareness and fear.

        I am doing well otherwise though, thank you! Looking forward to the Christmas season now. Owing to other events last year we weren’t really able to fully enjoy in our new apartment and neighborhood, but we will put that to right!

      2. Oysterband – I know of them. I really find it interesting, the way people are reacting to the election results in your part of the world. Without getting too specific, things seem to be headed that way in several other places as well, and this seems to be the time when we need free-thinking but responsible ‘artist’ types more than ever.

        I am sorry I am replying this late. ‘Life’ got in the way of blogging!

      3. No worries on the reply. Hope ‘life’ is okay. I so agree with your assessment. We certainly are not the only nation going through this now. Its cyclical but this seems more severe, and we will definitely that art more than ever!

      4. Life is not unokay (unless you count the general excrementory nature of year 2016!) but I’ve been very, very bad with writing down ANYTHING, even an email or a text message!

      5. 2016 has been personally rough for my wife especially. There was some good throughout, but she’s counting down the days until it is done with. And for all the great losses to the arts as well. I seem to do alright here on WordPress in the writing/responding nature, and I tend to answer texts right away. Everything else though….yikes!

      6. I am getting worse and worse with all social contact. I used to be an extrovert, but people exhaust me more and more now!

        Everyone is looking forward to 2017, because of how awful 2016 has been, but not me. 31st dec and 1st jan do tend to feel the same, no magic happens with a new year, or that’s what I like to think anyway!

      7. In some ways I feel as if I am shedding my introvert ways unintentionally, though I’d still like to cling to them like a life raft! I’m not looking forward to certain things already in 2017 and I’m not really a believer in that things will get better just because the calendar changes either, yet it feels like a useful marker to say- Get Going! At least for me.

      8. I’ve been meaning to write a post on this forever extra/introversion, and maybe it’ll be better to put my many opinions on the subject there and continue with this discussion!

  2. I used to get embarrassed all the time similarly to what you experience it stemmed from acute self awareness. Fear is what causes it – fear of embarrassment. They say face your fears – I did mine though another channel adventure motorbike riding solo. I don’t suffer from embarrassment at all now. You have to do things that make you proud of yourself, the more you grow to love yourself the less you will worry what anyone else thinks. You should be proud of yourself today for writing such a personally revealing post and handling it with aplomb. Keep going and do one thing every day that faces a fear even a small one pretty soon you will be bulletproof and confident. Promise 👌❤️️

    1. That is such good advice. And I feel the need for it more and more now. Not caring what people think, loving yourself, seem incredibly hard. On top of that, I try so hard to please people. Thank you again for your comment. It is very perceptive.

  3. I used to be really embarrassed, shy and introverted. I used to feel intimidated by men , I used not make eye contact and blush when I met a new person and it really held me back. The only way for me to get our of it was get out of my comfort zone by doing public speaking ,being part of my local theater group and putting my hand up in class. Xx

    1. Theatre certainly helps. Many introverted people really come into their own through performance (and go back to being introverted in real life!). You have to forget yourself on stage if you want to be convincing in whatever you’re performing. Wish we could approach life like that!

      I am sorry for replying so late. Life got in the way of blogging!

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