Why do we reserve certain behaviors for the moments in which we’re alone or avoid them altogether? Why do we feel embarrassed when we act quirky, honest or vulnerable in public? In reality, the things that typically bring humiliation are the very things we should embrace.
1. Singing in public.
There was a girl at my school; she walked all over campus, always singing at the top of her lungs. Rather than celebrate her courage, other students dubbed her the college weirdo. At the same time, many of us wouldn’t dream of performing karaoke without first becoming adequately inebriated. Why? Don’t we all love the feeling of rocking out in our cars? Singing along to our favorite songs? It’s a liberating sensation that we should seek (not shame) as often as we can.
2. Complimenting personal traits.
We’re way more likely to compliment someone’s shirt than we are likely to compliment personality traits or inherent characteristics. We shouldn’t be afraid to share our admiration for a friend’s generosity, her loveable laugh. These are the qualities most deserving of praise.
3. Talking to strangers.
It’s valid to warn children of the dangers of strangers. When we’ve reached adulthood, however, why do we shy away from these conversations? Every friend was once a stranger, after all. When we choose to stay boxed up, to avoid discussions with people we don’t know, we miss out on countless potential relationships.
4. Wearing cozy (but ugly) clothing.
When I wear my robe and fleece polar bear pants into the grocery store, people stare. And what’s the deal with people shaming granny panties? It’s stupid. Being comfortable isn’t a crime; it’s a luxury to be enjoyed.
5. Admitting we were wrong.
The first step in moving forward from a mistake is admitting that we were wrong. It’s embarrassing, but it’s also freeing. Owning up to our errors allows us to process them and understand how to avoid them in the future. We shouldn’t be afraid to say we’re sorry, that messed up. Resolving the issue is worth the initial shame.
6. Talking about our strengths.
We often feel shame when talking about our strengths, about the things that make us great or unique. There’s a difference between bragging and being proud of oneself, however, and we shouldn’t shy away from the latter.
7. Smiling at people we don’t know.
Our smiles are powerful assets that are shamefully underused. That’s the real embarrassment: how little we choose to smile despite their uplifting, costless, and infinitely available nature. Why aren’t we smiling at the people we pass on the streets, in the grocery store aisles, at the gym? We should be.
8. Discussing sexuality.
Sexuality is a raw element of humanity. It’s natural, carnal and beautiful, yet we’re embarrassed to talk about it. Talk of intimacy is hushed and penalized. We closet this immensely important topic, and it leaves people empty, confused and uncomfortable. Having an open dialogue, a normal approach to a normal human concept, would do us a world of good.
9. Sharing something we’ve created.
For all the artists out there: the novelists, songwriters, dancers – are you embarrassed to show off your work? I know when I write something, for instance, I am hesitant to share it with others. We should take pride in our ability to create, to make something from nothing. Let’s share our gift with as many people as we can, while we can.
10. Passing on alcohol.
Cheers to the individual who purposefully passes on the hangover. Drinking – at social gatherings or otherwise – is a choice, not an obligation.
11. Dancing like a crazy person.
There’s always that initial emptiness on the dance floor – no one wants to be the first one. People are ashamed to steal the spotlight, to get jiggy in front of a crowd. To embrace our funky sides is essential to our survival, however; it provides a necessary outlet for our stress, a necessary balance to our rigid, professional selves.
12. Crying openly.
When we’re moved to cry – even so passionately that our faces become wrinkled and distorted – we should embrace those sentiments. Those strong emotions are what make us human; censoring them is the real shame.
13. Taking the stage.
The fear of public speaking or performing is one that cripples our society. Whether we think our words aren’t worthy or our talents aren’t good enough, we need to overcome the fear and embarrassment associated with taking the spotlight. How many people in history had great messages but were too afraid to share them?
14. Declaring our love for someone.
Love is a beautiful thing. When we’re lucky enough to feel it, we should openly declare it. We should shout it from the rooftops and own the emotion with all that we have. Forget the opinions of others; they have nothing to do with what we’re feeling. We need to shamelessly succumb to the vulnerability; it’s the best part.