A. Huffing and puffing after anything from climbing a flight of stairs to running a marathon.
B. An inability to voice the word that’s right on the tip of your tongue.
C. Embarrassing moments.
As it turns out, this happens to be a trick question.
Yes, I do wish I was smart enough to deliberately make a trick question. Unfortunately, upon reflection of the list, I realized the first two can both be smooshed under the umbrella of embarrassing moments. So if you chose “A” or “B,” do not fret too much. My thoughts initially had them both linked to frustration.
Anyway, my guess is a majority of you chose “C.” Why not? We all have those moments where our actions, or those of someone else, brings the fire of a thousand suns to our cheeks. If you are anything like me, then you have a whole slew of such moments.
Being from a family that uses teasing as a second love language, I’ve come to terms with embarrassing moments many moons ago. However, maybe you are not ready to admit your own foolhardy actions. Maybe you need to feel a sense of camaraderie. Well then, why don’t you take a jaunt through some of my embarrassing memories?
They might make you feel better about yours.
Crushes always seem larger than life as a teenager. As a socially awkward preteen, mine was massive. I thought the seventh-grade boy living next door to me was the cream of the crop. Naturally, this meant I would automatically forget how to talk whenever he was around. I avoided eye contact and was not above walking back inside when he was out.
In hindsight, I probably looked like I hated him.
My case of puppy love was so severe I still remember my longest interaction with him. I was in the school cafeteria caught between a table and the food line. I was trying, unsuccessfully, to have minimal contact on my walk between the salad bar and my friends.
As the fates would have it, I walked straight into my crush, who was coming from the opposite direction. After running into him, I just stared. He was five inches away from me and my eyes were glued to his. He looked confused. Probably because his next-door-neighbor was staring at him as if he held the meaning of life. As he jerked to go around, we were caught in one of those mutual hopping from side-to-side scenarios. My brain had gone AWOL so instead of moving at the same time, my belated movements kept cutting him off.
Finally, I just stopped moving and waited until he walked by. My imagination obligingly brings up a picture of my guardian angel holding me in a vice while his lit a fire under his heels. I don’t remember ever talking to him again, so perhaps his longevity in my memory is directly related to the amount of mortification I felt.
Still, this moment was later usurped by my Sweet 16 celebration. My dad was in Iraq and my older brother was away at college. I thought this meant my mom, brother and I would grab some dinner, eat some cake and open some gifts. With this in mind, I gladly took on the challenge of decorating my cake.
Keep in mind, I thought this was going to be a family celebration.
Taking the gel tube in hand, I deftly applied it to the cake to write in large letters, “Happy Birthday, Delaney.” There was still a lot of gel left though, so I added, “Sweet 16 and Never Been Kissed.” With a keen artistic eye, I realized there was a definite lack of pictures so I drew a pair of big, pouty red lips with something like “smooch smooch” above them.
My mother, God bless her, tried to dissuade me. She knew of the surprise party. She knew my friends were coming over and they were towing with them three guys I didn’t really know well. Actually, I remember her gasp when she saw my multicolored creation.
I told her my creation was hilarious. I believe she agreed for reasons beyond my wit and artistic prowess.
When they came over I was bewildered and then later mildly traumatized. Especially since one of the guys spent a good several minutes slowly repeating, “Sweet sixteen and never been kissed.” My embarrassment was later compounded when I realized the party had been planned by my mother.
I spent the entire time thinking my mother needed my friends to leave so we could go eat dinner.
Talk about a steaming helping of stress with a side of beet-red embarrassment!
Perhaps you are thinking, “But these happened so long ago, Delaney.” Let me assure you missteping both verbally and physically is kind of my thing. For example, the other day I told a friend I liked how centipedes turn into butterflies.
I know. I know.
Embarrassing moments can be truly painful. However, I’ve also discovered some of my hardest laughs are from times I have done the truly ridiculous. These moments have taught me to take myself, and others, a little less seriously.
The threat of embarrassment has also aided me in identifying challenges. It actually usually works as an incentive. Am I going to miss out on learning a new dance, sport, language, etc. just because I may embarrass myself?
What a load of crock.
Sometimes, I will still hold back. Maybe the threat seems too much. Most of the time I realize I am going to embarrass myself one way or the other, so I might as well have fun in the process.
Share your embarrassing stories, don’t let them rule you. No matter what someone else tells you, we all get embarrassed — regardless of whether someone is present. Take strength in this common human thread and try something new, or meet someone new.
At the very least, laughing is always fun, right?