If you’re embarrassed about something right now, you shouldn’t be. Well, actually, you can be embarrassed. I don’t want to tell you not to feel how you feel because often feeling badly about feeling badly just compounds everything. If you feel embarrassed, you can revel in it and lounge around and pick up that embarrassment and hug it close if you want. If you think it’ll help. If you think it’ll unpack the layers of negative feelings.
But I want you to know that embarrassment is temporary and it is universal and it is what you let it become. So if you’re embarrassed right now, seize it. Let it wash over you. Live in it.
And then throw it away. You can’t change whatever happened. You can’t change how things turned out. You can’t change what you did or what someone else did. You can only work with what you feel right now.
Everyone gets embarrassed. Everyone has been embarrassed. Everyone, even you, will eventually again become embarrassed. So what good does it do to let it take over your life?
Even worse, people are embarrassed about things that aren’t even embarrassing. That are just things that happen to all people. Once, I was with a friend when he was having digestive problems and he was mortified that I’d know he had to poop. But like, doesn’t everybody poop? Why would I feel anything but sympathy because he was sick? I wanted to help. I wanted to get him some Pepto or take him home. It didn’t even occur to me that he be embarrassed even though he clearly was. I just kept saying, “Don’t be! This has happened to me before! I am sorry it’s happening to you, dude. Everything is cool.” And I meant it. Everyone in the world has had diarrhea at some point. (I mean, as they say in Mean Girls, she is sorry she laughed at you that time.)
It’s like what Steph said in her post about periods and hiding tampons: why do we pretend these things aren’t universal? Do we lack the basic ability to sympathize with others? Do we have such faulty memories that we can’t remember a time when we felt the same exact way? Are we so flawless? All this stuff we act so embarrassed or ashamed about are things every single person on Earth has been through. Like Steph will no longer hide her tampons in her sleeve in some weird attempt to pretend women don’t get their periods, we should all be more connected to each other. We should all soothe each other’s embarrassment.
Or on a different track, everyone’s made social faux pas or thought something incorrect or said something stupid. Everyone. No one has just floated through life in a perfect protective bubble of never slipping up or making an obvious mistake. We’ve all been there. Shouldn’t that lessen our embarrassment?
Perhaps it comes from our own ideas of self. We don’t want to be the “person who does this particular thing.” In fact, we want to be the exact opposite of that person and now we are that person. In that case, we’ve let embarrassment define us. And we should be defined by so much more.
Late at night, when you can’t sleep, in the corner of your mind, when you replay all the times you forgot someone’s name or was talking shit and the person was right behind you or whatever weird bodily function screwed up a date or whatever, just remember that this has happened to everyone. Do not deny it, you few who will deny it. WE ALL POOP. And we all forget birthdays and we all show up to early to parties and whatever.
That’s life, man. So stop replaying your embarrassment just to beat yourself up. No one is hung up on it but you.