A friend once asked me to narrate the most embarrassing event that had happened to me. For the average person, a day would stand out vividly in their minds, but me? I was spoilt for choice. I did not know if I should talk about the day I inadvertently flashed the whole country my underwear. My mother had woken me up from sleep to run an errand for her and my sleep induced brain did not consider that black cotton dresses are transparent so must be worn with other black undergarments and not white ones with childish hearts all over them. I had journeyed for approximately 30 minutes before I became aware of my surroundings enough to overhear two 8 year old boys talking about me – with one whispering to his friend that I was naked. What is a person to do? Go home or march on?
I discarded that story because I did not like my friend enough to share that juicy morsel. I wondered instead if I should impress her with the story of how I did a Jackie Chan at work when I fell and tumbled down 10 flights of stairs. I had just started my new job and I was determined to choke everyone with the fumes of my professionalism and make them eat my dust. When I was due to have my first solo client conference, I dressed to impress and wore heels to work- a feat that is not particularly impressive by itself until I decided to run up the stairs in said shoes. Suffice it to say, I am lucky all I ended up counting as I landed in a heap at the bottom of the stairs was my breath and not my teeth. I jumped up afterwards and laughingly declared that I was fine. The adrenaline kept me going until the next day when I woke up and found myself reaching for 2 Paracetamol and a jar of Robb.
I decided that story did not paint me in a good light, so I kept quiet about it. I told the party story instead. My close friend had decided to have a small gathering at his house for his birthday and I went along. When I arrived at the party, I breezed into the living room, took off my jacket with a flourish whilst flashing a smile and my breast to everyone in the room. I was unaware until that moment that my “boob tube” dress had ridden low during the journey to the house. On the way, I had felt colder than usual in my chest region but I just assumed that the winter was exceptionally harsh on that day and the wind was to blame for the cold. It did not occur to me to look beneath my jacket for a secondary reason.
In all this, there is a silver lining and that is the fact that I have become shameless. Never again will I be found cringing in the corner because I just spilled wine on myself or my host. I will clean up my mess as much as I can and move on from the moment. I have also learnt how to laugh at myself first and hardest; life is determined to do the same so I might as well join in on the joke. The other positive lesson from going through life like a bumbling idiot is that it is easier for me to do things that scare me. Nowadays, my mantra has become “what is the worse that could happen”. If my response is someone might laugh or think I am an idiot then I will most likely do whatever it is that I desire to do. There are two important reasons for this. The people who may laugh might be friends and family, or strangers. If it is the former group then I am safe as they love me and are not altogether malicious; with the latter, I continue my actions secure in the knowledge that I will most likely not see them again. Some strangers might think I am idiotic for my actions, but that is alright. I rely on society and the inherent need to be polite to deter them from saying anything to my face.
Take it from a seasoned professional in this regard, embarrassing moments are not as bad as they seem, and the fear of embarrassing oneself should not be a good reason to stop living. If nothing else, think about the great stories you will have to tell after a lifetime of making mistakes and living.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime