You’ll Just Embarrass Yourself


Paolo Camera

Quick quiz: How many of you read that title and saw it as a warning or a threat?

Had I not known that I actually meant it as a reassurance, I probably would have, too.  Let me explain.

So many times, I find myself wanting to get out there and do things – expand my blogs, meet new people, learn new skills.  But it’s really hard, no, it’s impossible to do these new things without having moments of embarrassment.  It’s embarrassing not to know what you’re doing.  It’s embarrassing to make mistakes.  And embarrassment?  Well, it just really, really sucks, doesn’t it?

So, for far too much of the time, we let that hold us back.  We don’t reach out to those new people, or sign up for that class at which we would be absolute beginners.  We don’t do those things that might just get us closer to our dreams.  Because we don’t want to suffer the wretched discomfort of embarrassment.



But here’s the thing, and here’s what my title really means.  Embarrassment is just uncomfortable.  It’s not fatal.  And if you can learn to just weather it and leave it behind, it doesn’t even have to cause any long-term damage.  It’s just embarrassment.  It’s just a feeling.

How do I know this?  Experience my friends, and plenty of it! I have pulled more boneheaded stunts than I will ever admit to in public.  Made every mistake possible.  Felt my cheeks flame and my stomach churn as a realized how dumb I’d made myself look.  Just last week I took a huge misstep in the blog-building arena that made me look like a total over-eager amateur.

But I lived.  And I learned.  And I have quite a few experiences that I can look back on that I never would have had if I hadn’t taken a chance, hadn’t learned to keep going, to not let the embarrassment keep me from where I wanted to go.

I mean, you should have seen me last week, racing through the downtown with my camera, trying to get the perfect shot of the visiting marching band.  Did I feel like an idiot?  Of course I did!  People were looking at me!  And I’m not a professional photographer, I just have this little photo blog that not a lot of people know about.  Did I let it stop me?  Not this time and because of that, not next time, either.

I’m not advising that you just get out there and make an ass of yourself without doing any homework whatsoever.  My homework for the various things I want to do is prodigious and on-going.  I am saying don’t let “doing your homework” become code for “not doing”.

Because I also remember those times I did let my fear of embarrassment stop me.  I regret those times.  I remind myself of them when I hesitate and off I go.  Because regret feels even worse than embarrassment.

Embarrassment is survivable.  And the rewards for surviving it are huge.

  • A little note about that first picture – the horses and jockeys are all fine.



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3 Responses to You’ll Just Embarrass Yourself

  1. Douglass says:

    “…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
    — Pema Chödrön

  2. Barb McMahon says:

    “perk up and lean in”… I love that! Good old Pema!

    Thanks, Douglass.

  3. Pingback: Never Too Old | Happy Simple

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